Pirates miss their chances, fall to Reds on tie-breaking homer in 9th
The Pirates knew they weren't going to get a lot of scoring chances Tuesday against Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto.
So it was especially frustrating when they stranded six runners and had three others thrown out on the basepaths in six innings against Cueto.
Yet, there still was hope.
“Sometimes, you don't beat (Cueto),” manager Clint Hurdle said. “But, if your pitcher gives you a good enough effort, they both leave the game with no mark, and you go to the bullpen.”
Cueto needed 119 pitches to get through just six innings, so his night ended early. He left with a three-run lead, and the Pirates exploited three relievers to tie the game in the seventh.
However, the Pirates' beleaguered bullpen was not perfect, either.
Closer Jason Grilli served up a titanic solo home run to Todd Frazier in the ninth inning, and the Reds pulled out a 6-5 victory.
Grilli missed with his first two pitches, a pair of sliders, so Frazier was waiting for the fastball.
“You can't fall behind the first guy you face, especially in a tie ballgame,” Grilli said. “Frazier's a guy who dives over the plate. It didn't work tonight.”
Said Frazier: “I figured I'd get the fastball and, luckily, I connected.”
Over the past four games, a span of 12 2⁄3 innings pitched, Pirates relievers have allowed 14 runs on 17 hits, including three home runs.
Cueto went into the game with a 1.85 ERA, second-best in the National League. In two starts against the Pirates in April, the righty yielded one run in 18 innings.
Tuesday was not Cueto's cleanest outing, though. He allowed two runs on seven hits and four walks. Cueto got two strikeouts, his lowest total in 15 starts.
“He was never totally locked in,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “But he found a way to give us six innings and gave us the chance to come back and get the lead.”
The Reds took a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning off right-hander Brandon Cumpton. Billy Hamilton lobbed a leadoff double into shallow left field, stole third and scored on Joey Votto's single.
In the second inning, with two outs and Russell Martin on first base, Cueto left a fastball up in the zone. Josh Harrison didn't waste it, and the ball clattered off the center field wall for a run-scoring double.
In the third, Andrew McCutchen's double down the third-base line extended his hitting streak to 12 games and put runners on second and third with one out. Back-to-back walks to Ike Davis and Martin gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead.
For a moment, it started to feel like the 2013 wild-card game again. Cueto seemed out of sorts and the crowd mock-chanted his name.
Alvarez popped a 2-1 cutter into shallow center field. McCutchen broke for home, but catcher Brayan Pena took Hamilton's throw and tagged McCutchen on the shoulder for a double play.
“He got me,” McCutchen said. “I knew it was going to be close. You're hoping the throw will be (off line) or take a bad bounce or something, but it wasn't.”
The lost opportunity loomed large in the fourth. The Reds used three straight hits to tie it then took a 3-2 lead on Pena's run-scoring grounder.
Harrison led off the sixth with a single and stole second but was thrown out trying to go to third on a ground ball to shortstop Zack Cozart.
“We jacked up (Cueto's) pitch count. We got in position to score, and we weren't able to capitalize,” Hurdle said. “It cost us in the end.”
Show commenting policy
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.
- Penguins notebook: Shootouts becoming a concern
- Protesters demonstrate against Mt. Lebanon deer culling program
- Tyler’s 20th, ‘A Spool of Blue Thread,’ is a miracle of sorts
- Allderdice boys advance to PIAA tournament
- Dark satire ‘Welcome to Braggsville’ targets race, gender
- Huge, ancient quasar could alter theories on black holes
- Greensburg pair jailed in convenience store robbery
- Pittsburgh man dies in Greene County accident
- Blackhawk girls take down South Fayette to repeat as WPIAL Class AAA champs
- Ex-Brewers star Hart hopes to prove to Pirates he still can play
- Men become focus of stores’ personal service efforts