The Pittsburgh Pirates entered this weekend’s series in last place in the N.L. Central division. The Cincinnati Reds, on the other hand, approached the 3-game set sitting atop the division, with an opportunity to secure their first winning season since 2000. In one of the more unexpected series of the season for Pittsburgh, the Pirates and Reds played a highly competitive weekend set, all of which came down to the very end.
Friday, September 10: The Reds broke a season-long 5 game losing streak in game 1 of the series, withstanding a 9th-inning comeback, and outlasted the Pirates in 12 innings for a 4-3 victory at Great American Ballpark.
Buccos’ starter Paul Maholm kept his team in the game throughout, lasting 7 innings while only giving up 3 runs on 6 hits, but his mound opponent bested him on this night. Homer Bailey gave up only 1 run on 5 hits through his 7 innings of work, and the Reds appeared as though they would be heading for an easy victory..that is, until the 9th inning. Francisco Cordero gave up a pair of RBI singles to Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez, blowing the save and tying the game, 3-3.
The teams would exchange scoreless innings until the Reds were able to load the bases in the 12th inning with Jonny Gomes coming to the plate. Gomes slapped a measly chopper to Ronny Cedeno who cleanly picked up the ball, tossing a perfect ball to catcher Chris Snyder, which SHOULD have been an easy force-out. Let’s be honest Pirates fans…nothing is ever easy on a baseball field in Pittsburgh. That was the case on Friday, as Snyder just muffed the play, dropping the ball and allowing the game winning run to cross the plate.
Saturday, September 11: For the second straight night, the Reds led the Pirates for the majority of the ballgame, and once again, the Buccos made a late-game comeback to make things much more interesting.
Cincinnati took a 3-0 lead into the top of 8th inning, as starter Edinson Volquez pitched 7 innings of shutout baseball. John Bowker got things started with an RBI-double, scoring Ronny Cedeno and getting the Buccos on the board. Jose Tabata infield-singled Bowker home, cutting the lead to a single run. Neil Walker then followed it up with a game-leading single to center, scoring Tabata and Andrew McCutchen, putting the Pirates ahead, 4-3.
After the Reds tied the game up in the bottom of the 9th, Joey Votto ended the game in walk-off fashion in the 10th, smashing a solo shot to deep left, giving the Reds the win and a guaranteed series-victory against the Pirates.
Sunday, September 12: For the 3rd consecutive game, the Reds jumped out to a lead against the Pirates. Joey Votto doubled home Orlando Cabrera in the 4th inning, and up until the 9th frame, that was the only run of the game. That is, until Andrew McCutchen walked to the plate with 2 outs and the bases loaded. After falling behind 0-2 in the count and with the Reds’ fans on their feet, cheering and expecting a 3rd straight victory, Cutch hammered a pitch down the line past third base, scoring Lastings Milledge, Garrett Jones, and Jose Tabata, taking the lead, and the earning the eventual victory in Cincinnati, 3-1.
So the Pirates lost 2 straight games on Friday and Saturday in the series, but did earn a hard-fought win on Sunday, avoiding the sweep at the hands of the Reds. While this weekend does represent yet another series loss on the road, the Pirates played one of the best 3-game sets of the season, especially from a pitching standpoint. Pittsburgh gave up a total of 10 runs this weekend against a high-powered offense, and even though it was good enough to only earn 1 victory, this series still served as a step forward. As Pirates’ fans, we’ll take it.
Current Record: 48-94
And…As Always…Let’s Go Bucs!