The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday night 7-6 thanks to a big fourth inning that led to seven runs.Jeff Locke
was not able to go deep into the game because of a high pitch count, but luckily the bats that fell asleep in Washington woke up and went to work.
Locke put the Pirates in a bad spot early by allowing the first four Cincinnati hitters to get on base. Todd Frazier came around to score when Eugenio Suarez hit the ball to Pedro Alvarez and he threw to second to get Marlon Byrd out. Jordy Mercer‘s throw from second was off target and Jay Bruce was able to score, giving the Reds a three-run lead before the Pirates came up to bat.
The Reds tacked on another run in the fourth inning when Bruce hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Billy Hamilton, who had stolen second earlier in the inning. With the score now 4-0 in favor of the Reds, the Pirates’ offense came up big in their half of the inning.
Pitcher Josh Smith for the Reds started the inning by issuing a walk to Neil Walker, the sixth walk of the game for the pitcher who made his MLB debut last night. Josh Harrison moved Walker to second with a single. Pedro Alvarez followed up with a double to the top of the outfield padding in center that scored Walker. Francisco Cervelli then cleared the bases with his third home run of the year.
Cincinnati brought in Pedro Villarreal to relieve Smith and the Pirates did not let up against the new pitcher. After Jordy Mercer and Jose Tabata both got out, Gregory Polanco immediately put himself in scoring position with his second triple of the year. Starling Marte hit a ball to Suarez at shortstop, but his throwing error allowed Marte to reach and Polanco to score. Andrew McCutchen added his ninth home run of the year, a two-run shot that gave the Pirates and 7-4 lead heading to the fifth inning.
Rob Scahill relieved Locke and only lasted two-thirds of an inning in the sixth. Tucker Barnhart doubled to center and moved to third on Chris Dominguez‘s infield hit. Hamilton’s sacrifice fly allowed Barnhart to score but Brandon Phillips was retired after him. Scahill walked Joey Votto and Clint Hurdle had seen enough so Jared Hughes was brought in to finish the inning.
After a quiet bottom of the fifth, the Reds got another run back when Jay Bruce homered off of Arquimedes Caminero. Caminero was able to strike out two batters around a lot of noise that inning and the Reds only came away with one run. In the seventh inning the Reds were able to get the tying run in scoring position with the speedy Hamilton, but failed to score him. Marte saved the inning and probably the game with a fantastic diving catch off the bat of Todd Frazier to end the inning.
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Tony Watson and Mark Melancon worked the last two innings and struck out all six batters they faced. Melancon earned his 24th save of the year and the Pirates improved to 40-30 on the season with the win.
What Stood Out
It seems like every time Locke pitches, he runs his pitch count up really quickly. There is usually at least one inning where he throws 20-25 pitches, and this is going to impact how far he can go in games. Hurdle needed Locke to go a few more innings and give most of the bullpen the day off after a tough weekend in Washington.
However, Locke was only responsible for two of the runs the Reds scored last night. Alvarez continues to look a little uncomfortable at first base and they need him to perform better there. Outside of a trade, the Pirates do not have a real answer for first base in Pittsburgh or in Triple-A Indianapolis if the Pirates decide to look elsewhere to improve first base.
But the Pirates won and that’s what is most important. The seven runs they scored in the fourth is the most they have scored in an inning this season, so they showed once again what is possible when they are clicking.
The three-game series continues tonight when Gerrit Cole and Mike Leake face off. Cole will look to keep his breakout season going for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but it is interesting to note that one of his two losses this season came in Cincinnati. That was back on May 6th when the Pirates weren’t clicking like that have been, so he’ll have a good chance to win if they continue to score like they did last night.
This will actually be the third time Cole and Leake have pitched against each other this season. Neither were part of the decision in the first game, but Leake came away the winner in the second game while Cole was hit with the loss on May 6th. Cole has been the stronger pitcher this season and hopefully he’ll benefit being in his home ballpark.