Ike Davis' grand slam and Neil Walker's walk-off single paced the Pirates as they defeated the Reds 6-5 in an action-packed game Monday.
Francisco Liriano hit Billy Hamilton with the first pitch of the game, and Hamilton raced around the bases on a groundout and a fielder's choice to make it 1-0 Reds. The Reds added another when Brandon Phillips and Todd Frazier hit consecutive doubles in the third.
In the fourth, though, Andrew McCutchen led off with a single, Pedro Alvarez doubled, and Walker reached via a hit by pitch to load the bases, and Davis made the opportunity count, pulling a Mike Leake cutter over the Clemente Wall.
The Reds eventually took back the lead. Clint Barmes' error in the seventh led to a Hamilton sacrifice fly three batters later to make it 4-3. In the eighth, Liriano allowed his first two runners to reach base, and Justin Wilson entered and gave up a double to Jay Bruce and a single by Devin Mesoraco. After a run scored, Starling Marte gunned Bruce down at the plate, saving the situation from getting completely out of hand, but the Pirates were still down a run.
That wouldn't last. Manny Parra allowed a homer to McCutchen to lead off the bottom half of the inning. The Pirates then loaded the bases (the eighth inning took a ridiculously long time), but Jordy Mercer struck out to end the frame with the two teams tied 5-5.
In the ninth, the Pirates turned to Jared Hughes, because ... well, I'm not really sure why you'd send a ground-ball specialist to face Billy Hamilton, or a righty to face Joey Votto, or a minor-leaguer who just got called up to pitch the ninth inning of a tie game, but that's what Clint Hurdle did. You can hardly fault him for not wanting to send Mark Melancon or Jason Grilli out there for a third straight day, I guess, and everything the bullpen does seems so tenuous right now that, in the moment, I could almost see logic in the decision even if, now, I have no idea what it was. Anyway, Hughes got two ground balls, then allowed two singles. Then Bruce hit a line drive that, fortunately, went straight to McCutchen.
The Reds then sent J.J. Hoover, who's been awful this year, to the mound. It seems the Pirates aren't the only ones dealing with relievers they can't really trust. Hoover walked Marte and McCutchen, then allowed Walker's single to right (thanks in part to Brandon Phillips, who couldn't get to it, and Devin Mesoraco, who missed the throw home), and the Pirates won 6-5. This was a nice win, and it was excellent to see Davis helping out yet again, but the Pirates' bullpen scares the heck out of me right now. It's only a small comfort that the Reds' bullpen appears even iffier.