Back at the scene of the ‘crime’

Big topic of pre-game conversation in Bucs’ Turner Field clubhouse was their 2011 Waterloo — the Jerry Meals call that ended last July 26’s 19-inning game here, and started the Pirates’ tailspin into oblivion.

There may really be no such thing as an on-off switch, but when Meals erroneously called Julio Lugo safe under Michael McKenry’s tag, it sure did seem to turn out the lights on the Bucs. They went into that game tied with the Cardinals for the NL Central lead — and that game became the first loss in a 19-43 finish.

Returning players re-lived that game with a shrug. Clint Hurdle couldn’t even give it that much. “I hadn’t even thought about it,” the manager said.

Hurdle certainly gave a lot more thought to his lineup for the first of four against the Braves. Casey McGehee is in the seven-hole for the first time all season, with the hope he can provide some protection for Pedro Alvarez, who leapfrogged him into the sixth spot.

It’s just another way to try to extend some innings. Hurdle needs to sprinkle the few guys currently hitting throughout the lineup, to break up the automatic outs. Once the others pick up some steam, that won’t be a problem. 

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