The Pirates dropped another game to the Reds Saturday night, losing 5-4 and falling to 5.5 games back in the N.L. Central.
The Reds scored two in the first. Zack Cozart led off with a single, and Drew Stubbs followed that with a bunt single of his own. Pedro Alvarez made what turned out to be a costly error on the play, allowing both runners to advance on an errant throw. Scott Rolen hit a line-drive single to right to bring both runners home.
The Pirates got one back in the top of the second when Michael McKenry homered, then tied the game the next inning when Alex Presley tripled (nearly missing a home run), then came home on a sacrifice fly. (Regarding McKenry, by the way -- he's been ridiculous, and at this point, however fluky his performance might seem, the Pirates have got to stop having series where McKenry starts two games on the bench. It's pretty much indefensible at this point. It's particularly unfortunate when the Pirates have a huge series against their division rivals and Andrew McCutchen and Alvarez haven't been providing much power recently, and yet Rod Barajas is likely to start two games.)
Anyway, the Reds took a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the third when Stubbs and Jay Bruce singled, the ultra-hot Ryan Ludwick brought home a run with a double, and Todd Frazier brought home another with a single.
The Pirates got a run in the fourth on a wind-aided solo shot by hometown boy Josh Harrison, then another in the sixth when Garrett Jones led off with a double, moved to third on a wild pitch, and came home on Travis Snider's sacrifice fly.
The scored remained tied until the bottom of the eighth, when Rolen led off with a triple and Frazier brought him home with a grounder. The Pirates tried, gamely, to do something against Aroldis Chapman, and Harrison and Gaby Sanchez in particular had pretty good at-bats against him, but the Bucs wound up with only Harrison's single and a wild pitch to show for it, and the game ended with Harrison stuck on second.
The bad blood between the two teams continued to boil, by the way. Mike Leake hit Harrison in the second, and Harrison flipped his bat and started jawing. That led Brian Gorman to issue a warning to both teams, even though the Pirates hadn't really done anything wrong, so Clint Hurdle came out to argue about that and got tossed. Then in the eighth, a plainly fired-up Jared Hughes bumped Dioner Navarro while making a tag. Expect more drama tomorrow.
James McDonald, by the way, wound up with seven strikeouts and a walk over six innings, a result I was a little surprised to see after having watched the game. He didn't look like he had a whole lot -- he wasn't commanding his breaking stuff very well, and his velocity still wasn't quite there. But at least he kept the ball in the zone this time.