Tony Cingrani even worse than Jason Grilli as Pirates win in extras

Justin K. Aller

Jason Grilli entered in a save situation and blew the Pirates' 3-2 lead with a horrible ninth inning, but Tony Cingrani issued a walk-off walk to Russell Martin three innings later as the Bucs won 4-3.

The Reds scored in the first and fourth against Jeff Locke as Homer Bailey dominated in the early innings, but the Pirates hung three runs in the fifth. Clint Barmes (who somehow had four hits and reached base five times in the game) and Chris Stewart singled. After Locke's force out, Bailey balked in a run. Locke moved to third on Gregory Polanco's single, then came home on Starling Marte's. Then Polanco scored as Andrew McCutchen singled.

Locke exited with a lead after six, having struck out two but walked only one in another solid start. (Locke got a bit of help from Marte in the sixth as Marte played leadoff hitter Todd Frazier's line drive perfectly and then gunned Frazier down at second.) Locke is showing how helpful he can be when he limits his walks -- after leading the NL with 84 last year, he has just two in four starts this year. Tony Watson and Mark Melancon followed him with one scoreless inning apiece.

That, of course, set Grilli up to close in a one-run game. That this was a disaster waiting to happen was lost on no one except, apparently, Clint Hurdle (and, I'm sure, Grilli himself). Grilli was terrible, giving up a game-tying solo homer to Devin Mesoraco and then a double to Zack Cozart. All three outs he recorded were hard-hit, too. Grilli's season has been a mess; if he hadn't just written an insufferable autobiography, his performance would be even harder to watch.

Oh well! Jared Hughes entered in extra innings and was much better, though not as dominant as Aroldis Chapman, who faced four Pirates and whiffed them all. In the 11th, Barmes led off with a double and Martin followed with a walk, but Vance Worley pinch-hit and struck out trying to bunt. (The broadcasters speculated that Hurdle went with Worley and not Charlie Morton because Morton might have pitched on an emergency basis if the game went long.) Then Gregory Polanco hit a popup and Starling Marte struck out.

Justin Wilson got the Reds 1-2-3 in the 12th, and then Gaby Sanchez hit a one-out single and advanced on a balk. Cingrani then intentionally walked Josh Harrison, then grazed Barmes' uniform to to load the bases. He nearly hit Martin, too, but ended up walking him with the bases full, bringing home Sanchez for the Pirates' winning run.

It was a terrific game for Locke, Barmes, and everyone in the Pirates' bullpen not named Grilli, so it's great that the Pirates came out with a win, especially after they lost the first two games against a Reds team that could again be a Wild Card competitor. I'm not sure how the Pirates can keep Grilli in the closer's role after this.

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