Hanrahan, Meek thriving in Bucs' bullpen

Hanrahan, Meek thriving in Bucs' bullpen

PITTSBURGH -- Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek live for nights like Tuesday.

With starter Zach Duke having surrendered just one run in six innings against the Phillies, Hanrahan and Meek bridged the gap to closer Octavio Dotel, each tossing a hitless inning in the Pirates' 2-1 win at Citizens Bank Park.

"Obviously, you don't mind coming in with a three- or four-run lead, but those tight games are fun," said Hanrahan, who pitched a perfect eighth. "That's what we live for down in the bullpen. That's where we make our money, and it's a lot more fun coming in a game like that than when you're down 10 runs and everybody's racing to the bat rack."

The numbers tell the story with Hanrahan, who has not allowed a run in his last eight innings. The right-hander has lowered his ERA -- which reached 15.75 after an April 22 appearance against the Brewers -- down to 4.70 and has reaffirmed his teammates' and coaches' faith in him.

Hanrahan's attitude is reflected in his right-handed counterpart, Meek, who was able to put behind him Sunday's blown save against the Cubs and shut down Philadelphia in the seventh. That lowered his ERA to 0.69, tops among all Major League relievers with at least 20 innings pitched.

"I just think that Hanny and I, we have similar stuff," Meek said. "We throw hard, and we throw the breaking ball. I just think if we have the lead, we pretty much know we're going to see some action, depending on what the starters do."

Manager John Russell feels the two feed off each other, sensing their determination to rise to the occasion, such as Tuesday, when six-time All-Star Roy Halladay went the distance for the Phillies.

"They take a lot of pride in it now," Russell said. "When the game's in their hands, they want to shut the door. They've obviously got the arms to do it. That's another added bonus they have. They both throw hard, they both have a very good breaking ball and they're the kind of guys you like to have in the situation. So they've done a really good job with it."

-- Matt Fortuna