Matt Hague's Clutch Hit Helps Pirates Beat Johnny Cueto, Reds

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30: Matt Hague #65 of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits an RBI double in the sixth inning against the Cincinnati Reds during the game on May 30, 2012 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

I actually called for a 2-1 win on Trib Live Radio today, and here it is. This is a nice win, and not just because it brought the Bucs back to .500. Going into a matchup against Johnny Cueto and then a three-game series against the Brewers, I figured the Pirates had a chance to show that they didn't have to wilt against folks who usually seem to have their number, and tonight, at least, they didn't. Let's hope they can do the same against some reasonable pitching matchups and a struggling Brewers team in Milwaukee starting on Friday.

The Bucs beat Cueto, but it's true that they didn't hit him particularly well. (Jordy Mercer did, however, get his first big-league hit by dumping in a single to right off Cueto in the first.) Cueto walked four and only struck out five over seven innings, but for a while it looked like he might pitch a shutout. The Bucs had a great chance to score in the second when Garrett Jones tripled with one out, but Matt Hague grounded meekly to third, and, after an intentional walk and a walk to load the bases, Jose Tabata grounded out. The Reds had already scored one in the first, thanks to a ground-rule double by Zack Cozart, an error by Pedro Alvarez, and a sacrifice fly by Brandon Phillips, and it looked like that might be all they would need, particularly as innings went by and Jones' triple receded into the past.

In the sixth, though, Neil Walker walked with two outs. Then Jones singled, and up came Hague, who'd failed to bring Jones home early on. This time, Hague lifted a fly ball to the gap in right-center, and both Walker and Jones came home. You can credit Hague for a huge clutch hit, as the Pirates took a 2-1 lead.

The score would stay that way. A.J. Burnett battled through seven innings, striking out three and walking two. Jason Grilli pitched the eighth and struck out two batters. Joel Hanrahan made it interesting in the ninth, allowing singles to Chris Heisey and Joey Votto, but then he blew away Miguel Cairo with fastballs and struck out Ryan Hanigan with sliders, and the Bucs sent the Reds packing.

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