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Pirates

Pirates notebook: Little sleep for weary Pirates, Reds

| Thursday, April 9, 2015, 5:51 p.m.
Pirates reliever Tony Watson (left) gave up a three-run homer on Opening Day, the first of a series of noteworthy failures by the bullpen to start the season.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates reliever Tony Watson (left) gave up a three-run homer on Opening Day, the first of a series of noteworthy failures by the bullpen to start the season.

CINCINNATI — The Pirates had to make a quick turnaround Thursday for the final game of their three-game set against the Cincinnati Reds.

Because of a lengthy rain delay and extra innings, Wednesday's game did not end until 1:46 a.m. Thursday. The series finale began about 12 12 hours later.

Although manager Clint Hurdle pushed back the team bus's arrival time at Great American Ball Park on Thursday morning, many of the players and coaches had bleary eyes when the game began.

“For many of them, this is probably the first night-day doubleheader they've played,” Hurdle said with a chuckle. “We usually play day-night doubleheaders. It's kind of old school ... show up and play.”

Wednesday's game was the eighth-latest-ending in franchise history. It was the Pirates' longest night since July 26, 2011, when umpire Jerry Meals infamously ruled Atlanta's Julio Lugo safe at home at 1:50 a.m. to cap a 19-inning loss against the Braves.

The club's latest finish was 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 9, 1963. It was a doubleheader against the Houston Colt .45s at Forbes Field, which featured a rain delay and two extra-inning games.

Neil Walker didn't drag a pillow with him to second base, but he'd rather have a late-night game early in the season than later.

“Fortunately, at this time of year we all have a pretty good amount of energy, so something like this doesn't really wear you down,” Walker said. “You expect it to happen in April, especially with the weather on the East Coast.”

More than a pen problem

The bullpen was tagged with the loss in each of the three games against the Reds. Tony Watson served up a three-run homer in the eighth inning Monday, Radhames Liz faltered in the 11th inning Wednesday, and Rob Scahill gave up the decisive run Thursday.

“We did give up runs late, but I like our bullpen,” Hurdle said. “It's going to be one of our strengths. The one thing you lose sight of maybe is the opportunities when your offense doesn't produce runs. We've got to find a way to connect the dots a little bit better on offense with more consistency.”

Hughes for two

Hurdle spent much of spring training probing for which of his middle relievers can best handle multiple-inning outings. John Holdzkom struggled with it, which is one reason he was sent back to Triple-A Indianapolis. Liz, a former starter, is fine with a longer role.

Wednesday, Jared Hughes worked the sixth inning and got two outs in the seventh. He gave up a two-out single to Billy Hamilton, who stole second and scored when lefty Antonio Bastardo yielded Joey Votto's single through a shifted infield.

Hughes threw 29 pitches, three shy of his season high last year, when he made 14 multi-inning appearances.

“I didn't even get tired,” Hughes said. “I'll be ready to go, as long as they need me to go, whenever they need me to do it.”

Over the past four seasons, Hughes has shown he can get more than three outs in a game. Forty-four of his 171 career outings (25 percent) went longer than one inning.

“I want (Hurdle) to go to me,” Hughes said. “I'm ready for him to go to me. And when he does, I'm going to go out there and get after it.”

Around the horn

As expected, RHP Jameson Taillon opened the season on the Triple-A Indianapolis disabled list. The Pirates say Taillon is making good progress recovering from Tommy John surgery. ... OF Jaff Decker (calf strain), who's on the Pirates' DL, began a rehab assignment with Indy. ... C Chris Stewart (hamstring strain) began a rehab assignment with Double-A Altoona. ... Six players made their Pirates debuts on Wednesday. Corey Hart pinch-hit in the seventh inning and delivered an RBI single on the first pitch. Jung Ho Kang, in his first MLB appearance, grounded out as a pinch-hitter. Bastardo, Liz, Scahill and Archimedes Caminero each pitched in relief. ... Kang played in the field for the first time Thursday and fielded one ball at shortstop.

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

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