Two-out hits were the story of the night for the suddenly surging Pittsburgh Pirates. Garrett Jones came through. Starling Marte came through. Jose, some people call him Joe, Tabata came through as the Pirates dropped the Reds 3-1 at PNC Park.
The game changer was when Johnny Cueto had to leave the game with just one away in the fifth inning with pain in his right tricep. It didn’t take long for the Bucs to jump on the Reds bullpen after Cueto had limited them to just two hits.
Travis Snider singled off reliever Alfredo Simon moved to second on a single by Clint Barmes (who’s son Wyatt had his first hit in his coach pitch game today too!) and Snider later scored on a great piece of hitting by the white-hot-seven-game-hitting streaking Marte. The hit gave the Bucs the one run lead the rock solid bullpen would need to hold off the Reds who were playing without their star Brandon Phillips who missed the game for family reasons.
Joe Tabata got knocked down by Pittsburgh kid J.J. Hoover, but got off the deck to rip another clutch two out hit for the Bucs. The pinch-hit double found its way into the right center gap and allowed Pedro Alvarez, who had walked, to score.
Jeff Locke, was the Pirates starter and he still isn’t missing bats (two swings and misses in 87 pitches Tom Singer tweeted,) nor was he pitching any first pitch strikes. But he battled the Reds allowing only one run and turned the game over to the bullpen. The only run Locke allowed was a Zack Cozart home run in the third that staked the Reds to a 1-0 lead.
The Bucs got on the board with the two-out magic when Andrew McCutchen walked and GFJ doubled into the gap in left center.
After Locke’s departure, Justin Wilson got five quality outs and relied on his curveball to get big outs. Clint Hurdle went to Jared….Hughes to get Chris Heisey, but Dusty Baker countered with Xavier Paul and Hughes got the job done to close out the seventh. Hughes had struckout Heisey two of the three times he faced him in his career. (H/T Buctober_Bound)
In the eighth, Mark Melancon fired more cutters and four seamers with a two seam mix to continue his dominance of the eigth inning.
Melancon credited Jim Benedict with working on his mechanics. The delivery Melancon has is high slot, an arched back for power and it looks a bit odd, but it’s working for the right hander acquired in the Joel Hanrahan trade this offseason.
Jason Grilli closed it out and gave the Buccos another series win and their fourth win in their last five games. It’s not a coincidink that Melancon and Grilli have pitched in each of those games.