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Pirates 7, Reds 6: Bucs Take 2-1 Series Lead With Bizarre Win

Man, that was a deeply strange game, with a ton of really unlikely twists and bizarre plays. The Bucs got off to a 2-0 lead when Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata hit back-to-back opposite-field homers to start the game, with both homers landing in about the same place in right field. They extended that lead to 4-0 as Edinson Volquez struggled to find the plate in the first inning, with Chris Snyder picking up an RBI on a bases-loaded walk and Ronny Cedeno bringing home another runner on a sacrifice fly.

Jeff Karstens gave up a solo homer to Jonny Gomes in the second, but otherwise held down the fort quite well for a while, racking up six strikeouts mostly by challenging hitters with fastballs that they couldn't seem to believe he'd have the nerve to throw. The Reds picked up a run in the fourth, but things seemed to be going well up to that point.

And then, the fifth. Karstens gave up a solo homer to Miguel Cairo, and then the Reds took a 5-4 lead on an RBI double by Scott Rolen and an RBI single by Jay Bruce. Garrett Jones hit a solo jack in the bottom of the inning, however, and pinch-hitter John Bowker hit an RBI double to give the Pirates another one-run lead.

Jose Veras pitched a scary sixth inning, in which Cairo very clearly leaned into a pitch but got awarded first base anyway, loading the bases for Joey Votto, who Veras struck out. The following inning, however, Veras gave up a solo homer to Jay Bruce

Then there was the eighth, in which Ronny Cedeno seemed to be trying to set some sort of record for mental errors in an inning. He came up with runners on first and third with no outs and bunted. It was apparently his decision, because Garrett Jones broke late from third and got called out (although the replays made it look like he should have been safe). Then, after a flyout by Steve Pearce, Andrew McCutchen singled with Chris Snyder on second and Cedeno on first, apparently driving home a run - and Cedeno, for some reason, tried to make it to third. He just barely avoided getting tagged out, but there's no way he should have been doing that with two outs, particularly since it seemed he would have been called out before Snyder had crossed the plate.

In the eighth, Evan Meek struck out Stubbs and then ran into trouble, allowing a single and a walk. Clint Hurdle, not wanting to take any chances with a pitcher who has been prone to blowups so far this year, brought in Joel Hanrahan, and Scott Rolen hit a line drive that would have spelled trouble had it not been for ... wait for it ... Ronny Cedeno, who made a great catch and doubled the runner off second.

The ninth inning, too was an adventure, and a particularly surreal one, as there was garbage blowing all over the field and billowing in the air above. Hanrahan inexplicably threw several pitches way out of the strike zone, including one with two runners on base that went to the backstop and allowed the winning run to get into scoring position. Hanrahan got Stubbs to fly out to McCutchen, though, and that, finally, was it. 7-6 Pirates. It was a great game for McCutchen, who went 3-for-3 with two walks, but otherwise ... there were so many ways in which the Pirates could have lost this game, and somehow, they didn't.