One day after being dominated by Cincinnati Reds’ starter, the Pittsburgh Pirates had no one to blame but themselves in a 5-2 loss to the Reds Thursday night at PNC Park, the Bucs’ 10th loss in their past 13 games.
After a good start to the game that saw them take a 2-1 lead into the fifth inning, the Bucs got sloppy as they committed three errors and walked seven Cincinnati batters on the night, as they made things fairly easy for Cincinnati.
Things started out well for the Pirates as they took a 1-0 lead after the first inning.
With one aboard and two outs, Cincinnati starter Alfredo Simon walked three consecutive batters, including Travis Snider to force in the first run of the game. However the Pirates let Simon off the hook when Jordy Mercer struck out swinging, stranding three runners.
The Reds quickly tied the game at one in the second without the benefit of a hit off Pirates starter Charlie Morton.
Morton walked Roger Bernadina to start the inning. Bernadina stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Bucs’ catcher Chris Stewart, who was a late addition into the Pirates starting lineup in place of Russell Martin. A groundout from Ramon Santiago plated Bernadina to tie the game.
The Bucs quickly got that run back in the third on a solo shot from Andrew McCutchen, his fourth of the season and the third consecutive game he has homered.
But that would be it from the Pirates offense on the night.
It looked like that could be enough as Morton got in a groove, retiring the next nine Cincinnati hitters before everything changed on one pitch.
Morton hit Reds’ catcher Devin Mesoraco with a pitch to start the fifth and he never recovered as the Reds scored three runs in the inning on only one hit.
After the hit batsman, Morton walked Santiago, allowing Simon to move both runners up with a sacrifice bunt. Billy Hamilton singled in Mesoraco to tie the game and then made things happen with his legs. Hamilton stole second and another throwing error from Stewart allowed Santiago to score the go-ahead run. Hamilton moved to third on the throwing error and proceeded to score on a Jay Bruce grounder.
That was more than enough for Simon (3-1), who allowed only the two runs on four hits through 6.2 innings of work, even though he walked five on the night.
Morton (0-3) also allowed only four hits in six innings, but his five walks came back to bite him, as he was tagged with four runs (three earned).
The Reds added an insurance run in the eighth on a groundout from Mesoraco that scored Bruce.
The Bucs didn’t amount much off the Cincinnati bullpen the rest of the game until the ninth when they had two runners on with one out, bringing the tying run to the plate. But Jonathan Broxton recorded his third save of the season by retiring Neil Walker and McCutchen to end the game.
The Pirates had only six hits on the night, two apiece from Starling Marte, McCutchen and Stewart.
The Bucs will try and salvage a split of the four-game series Thursday afternoon. Brandon Cumpton is expected to be called up from Triple-A to make the start for the Pirates in place of the injured Wandy Rodriguez. He will be opposed by the Reds Tony Cingrani (1-2, 3.22 ERA).