Entering this week’s series at Great American Ballpark, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds were both chasing the division leading St. Louis Cardinals, while also trying to keep pace with one another in the highly competitive N.L. Central. After four close games in Cincinnati this week, the Bucs and Reds played to a virtual stalemate.
Pedro Alvarez went 3-4 with five RBI’s as the Pirates beat Homer Bailey and the Reds, 5-3, in the series finale this afternoon.
Bailey tossed a no-hitter against the Bucs last year at PNC Park, but it wasn’t in the cards this time around. The Pirates worked his pitch count in the early innings, forcing him to leave after six, giving up two runs on six hits. His mound opponent, Brandon Cumpton, was impressive once again in his second Major League start.
After a shaky start, Cumpton settled in, giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits through his five innings of work. Bryan Morris earned his fourth victory of the season, giving up a run on three hits in two innings, while Tony Watson closed things out in the eighth and ninth, notching his second save of the season.
The day belonged to Alvarez, who delivered all five of the Pirates runs on the day. After Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones had two-out base hits, Pedro singled home Cutch to pull the Bucs even with the Reds, 1-1 in the third inning. His solo homerun in the sixth inning tied the game, 2-2, but was only the second most important hit of the game for him.
Morris led off the seventh inning with a single, and advanced to second on Starling Marte’s base hit. After Jordy Mercer was thrown out on a poor bunt attempt, McCutchen walked to load the bases for Jones. The usually reliable G.I. went down on strikes, bringing Alvarez to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. As we know, Pedro as struggled at times in these high pressure moments, but that wasn’t the case today. His three-run double broke the game open, giving the Bucs’ bullpen the breathing room it needed to close out the Reds and earn a series split.
Sure, it’s only June. The Pirates and Reds will play each other nearly another dozen times before all is said and done. But make no mistake…this was a huge series, and a gigantic game for the Pirates to win this afternoon. They are keeping pace with one of the most talented teams in all of baseball in the Reds, and are keeping the pressure on the division-leading Cardinals. This was a highly competitive series, one that proved just how even these two teams are here at nearly the midway point of the season.
The Bucs continue their road trip this weekend with a three-game series out west against the Los Angeles Angels. Gerrit Cole will make the first road start of his Major League career tomorrow night.
Record vs. Reds: 6-4
Record vs. N.L. Central: 21-13
Record on the Road: 18-17
Overall Record: 43-30
Let’s Go Bucs!