Share This Page

Extra-inning loss to Reds extends Pirates' skid

| Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, 12:46 a.m.
Pirates starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez throws against the Reds in the first inning Monday, Sept. 10, 2012, in Cincinnati. (AP)

CINCINNATI — If Wandy Rodriguez would've had a longer night, the Pirates might've had a shorter night Monday against the Cincinnati Reds.

Rodriguez was pulled in the seventh inning after throwing just 89 pitches. Reliever Jared Hughes immediately gave up a game-tying, two-run double.

Almost three hours later — after several blown scoring chances by both teams and a near scrum on the field when Brandon Phillips was hit by a pitch — Ryan Ludwick's RBI infield single lifted the Reds over the Pirates, 4-3, in 14 innings.

The Pirates have lost four in a row and fell 12 games behind the front-running Reds in the NL Central.

Rodriguez mowed down the Reds for six innings. In the seventh, he was done in by Jay Bruce's hustle and a quick hook by manager Clint Hurdle.

With the Pirates up, 3-1, the Reds had Ludwick on first base with one out. Bruce hit a routine grounder to second baseman Brock Holt, who threw out Ludwick at second. Bruce never gave up on the play and beat the throw from shortstop Clint Barmes by a half-step.

Todd Frazier hit a hard roller to the right side, but Holt was positioned way over by second base and couldn't get to it in time.

Hurdle then replaced Rodriguez with right-hander Hughes. Switch-hitter Dioner Navarro looped a two-run double into the right-field corner.

Two runs scored, tying the game. Robbed of what could have been his third straight victory, Rodriguez wound up with a no-decison.

“I felt pretty good tonight, and I think I could've finished that inning,” Rodriguez said. “But (Hurdle) made his decision.”

Hurdle said he did not like the matchup of Rodriguez against Navarro, who bats 20 points better against lefties.

“(Rodriguez) was probably only going to get one more hitter, anyway, so I decided to make the move now,” Hurdle said. “It's the second-worst feeling for a manager when you make that move and it doesn't work. The worst one is when you leave the pitcher in and the guy hits a home run.”

In eight starts with the Pirates, Rodriguez has gone over 100 pitches three times and is averaging 95.6 pitches per outing. He went 100-plus pitches in eight of his 21 starts for the Houston Astros.

Devin Mesoraco began the bottom of the 14th with a single to left field off Rick van den Hurk (0-1), who was called up Monday from Triple-A Indianapolis.

Phillips tapped the ball a couple of feet in front of the plate and stumbled getting out of the box. Catcher Michael McKenry tried to get the forceout at second base, but Mesoraco beat the throw. Phillips reached first on the fielder's choice.

With two outs, a wild pitch advanced both runners. Ludwick singled deep into the hole at short, scoring Mesoraco.

In the eighth inning, with the score tied at 3 and one out, Hughes nicked Phillips on the leg with a pitch. As the crowd of 16,577 booed, Phillips glared at Hughes, then flipped the ball toward the mound.

“I was not expecting the ball to come back towards me,” Hughes said. “Usually the ball goes to the bat boy after someone gets hit. I was kind of startled, and it upset me.”

Said Hurdle, “That's kind of Brandon being Brandon, isn't it? We've got no problem with that.”

It seemed for a moment that the situation would escalate, as Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett stormed out of the dugout halfway onto the field — but none of his teammates followed. Order was restored, and both teams were warned by home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi.

Things have been tense between the Pirates and Reds since the Aug. 3 game when Andrew McCutchen was plunked by closer Aroldis Chapman.

Phillips then stole second, and Joey Votto was intentionally walked. But Hughes got out of the jam by striking out Chris Heisey and Ryan Ludwick. As the Pirates left the field, Phillips yapped angrily at McCutchen.

The game had a promising start for the Pirates. They finally found a way to score against Reds right-hander Mat Latos, who didn't allow a run in his first two starts against the Pirates this season. Latos ran his shutout streak to 16 13 innings before Andrew McCutchen jacked a solo homer to ignite what became a three-run fourth.

After not going deep in 20 straight games, McCutchen has homered in back-to-back games. In seven games this year at Great American Ball Park, the Pirates have hit nine home runs.

With one out, the Pirates loaded the bases. Pedro Alvarez walked. Jose Tabata doubled to center — Alvarez was running hard and would've scored, but the ball one-hopped over the wall for a ground-rule double. Barmes worked a full-count walk.

With Latos pitching low and away, Rod Barajas blooped an RBI single that landed near the right-field foul line. That snapped Barajas' 0-for-13 skid with runners in scoring position.

Rodriguez, who singled in his first at-bat, hit a smash that ticked off third baseman Todd Frazier's glove. Frazier recovered quickly and made a strong throw to get Rodriguez at first base as Tabata scored to make it 3-0.

Rodriguez began the game riding a streak of 13 scoreless innings pitched. It ended after 16 13 innings, when Chris Heisey hit a 407-foot home run to left-center field, the first hit Rodriguez allowed.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or 412-320-7811.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.