Walker's 9th-inning single pushes Pirates to a victory over rival Reds

Rob Biertempfel
| Monday, April 21, 2014, 10:31 p.m.

There was more thunder Monday night by the Pirates' bats. Ike Davis cracked his bat as he yanked a grand slam over the Clemente Wall at PNC Park. Andrew McCutchen jolted a dramatic solo shot.

Yet the decisive blow was much softer — a wobbly, looping single by Neil Walker in the ninth inning that lifted the Pirates to a 6-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. The walk-off hit snapped a three-game skid.

Russell Martin and McCutchen drew back-to-back walks off reliever J.J. Hoover. With two outs, Walker lifted a 1-2 pitch over the head of second baseman Brandon Phillips into shallow right field.

The throw to the plate bounced over the head of catcher Devin Mesoraco as Martin scored.

“Anytime you can not hit the barrel (square) and find some grass to win a game, it feels good,” Walker said.

Reds manager Bryan Price said Phillips had little chance of catching the ball.

“It started in one direction and was like a scuffed ball that then went completely the opposite way,” Price said. “There's no way Brandon could have read that.”

In the fourth inning, the Pirates erased a 2-0 deficit by scoring four runs on four consecutive pitches by Reds right-hander Mike Leake.

McCutchen led off by dropping a single into left field.

Pedro Alvarez clanged a double off the out-of-town scoreboard. McCutchen went to third base.

Walker was plunked on the rump.

Davis launched a 90 mph cutter over the Clemente Wall for his third career grand slam. It was his first homer since being traded Friday from the New York Mets to the Pirates.

“It was a pretty good pitch,” Davis said. “I wanted something up because I knew Mike has a good changeup and sinker. I didn't want to ground into a double play and kill the inning.

“It felt good when I hit it. I haven't played here enough to know the stadium and be able to say, ‘Oh, that's out.' I kind of had to watch it the whole time, and lucky enough, it got out.”

It was Davis' second slam this season, both coming against the Reds. On April 5, he had a pinch-hit, walk-off shot that lifted the Mets to a 6-3 win.

According to Elias, Davis is the third player to hit a grand slam against the same team while playing for two teams. Mike Piazza and Ray Boone also did it.

Davis' grand slam gave the Pirates a 4-2 lead, but the Reds chipped away. Left-hander Francisco Liriano left the game in the eighth inning with a 4-3 lead.

“We had a long game (Sunday), and I knew we were short in the bullpen,” Liriano said. “I had to give it everything I had and go as deep as I could. It didn't go quite the way I wanted it to.”

Reliever Justin Wilson yielded a game-tying double to Jay Bruce and a go-ahead single by Mesoraco.

McCutchen led off the bottom of the eighth with a solo homer to right-center field to tie it at 5-5.

Before the game, the Pirates' clubhouse still was buzzing about the brawl during Sunday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Monday afternoon, manager Clint Hurdle discussed the dustup with MLB disciplinarian Joe Torre.

Hurdle allowed that a fight sometimes can spark a team, but he said the Pirates need more than a testosterone boost.

“We haven't played well enough collectively to get on a roll,” Hurdle said. “We need to play and finish things off better on the mound, at the bat and in the field. That's what's going to help us in the long run.”

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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