Pirates Ride Bullpen, Come-From-Behind Ninth to Win Over Reds

The Pirates got a stellar effort from five relievers and a two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth to pick up a 3-2 win over Cincinnati.  The win gave them a split of their four-game series.

Chad Kuhl didn’t last long as he had trouble throwing strikes.  Through three innings, Kuhl allowed only two hits and fanned five, but he walked four and threw only 33 of 64 pitches for strikes.  One of the walks preceded a home run by Nick Castellanos in the second.

The Pirates’ hitters struggled against 26-year-old rookie Tejay Antone.  For the second game in a row, they wasted a leadoff double in the first by Erik Gonzalez.  They got on the board in the third, when Adam Frazier singled with two out, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Bryan Reynolds.

Until the eighth, the Pirates didn’t get another runner past first.  Gregory Polanco had an especially bad day, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, stranding six runners.  In his last three games, he’s 0-for-10 with seven whiffs.

The Pirates’ bullpen kept it 2-1 for six innings.  Geoff Hartlieb, Sam Howard, Chris Stratton, Nik Turley and Richard Rodriguez combined for six scoreless innings, with Hartlieb throwing two and the others one each.  Over those six innings, they allowed just one hit and three walks, while fanning seven.  The Reds didn’t get a runner past first.

In the ninth, against Reds’ closer Raisel Iglesias, Josh Bell led off by lining a single to center.  It was the first hit by the Pirates’ #4-6 hitters in the last three games.  Ke’Bryan Hayes lined another hit to center and Cole Tucker grounded a hit past second, tying the game.  Tucker took second on the throw to the plate, which proved to be a big play.

With second and third, and nobody out, Derek Shelton sent Kevin Newman up to hit for John Ryan Murphy, who had struck out all three times up.  (Murphy has now fanned in exactly half his 40 ABs.)  Newman bounced back to Iglesias and Hayes got hung up between third and home.  He stayed alive until Tucker could get to third.  Gonzalez then flied to right.  It wasn’t deep, but the throw was bad and Tucker scored easily for the walkoff win.  The Reds challenged, claiming Tucker left too soon, but a split-screen replay showed he clearly didn’t.

Rodriguez got the win.  The Pirates are now 13-26.