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Pirates can't convert late-inning chances, lose 5-4

Joe Robbins

The Pirates nearly came back to beat the Reds, but missed on big chances in both the eighth and ninth innings and ended up losing 5-4.

After a rain delay, the Reds jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first. Garrett Jones hit a solo shot in the top of the second to key a two-run inning, and Andrew McCutchen homered in the fourth to make it 4-3. A.J. Burnett got wild in the sixth inning as he approached and passed the 100-pitch mark, giving up two singles and then walking Chris Heisey and Joey Votto, walking in a run to make it 5-3. At least one there looked pretty likely anyway -- Russell Martin had to make a couple good stops to prevent wild pitches. Burnett left after 5.2 innings, striking out eight batters but allowing 10 hits and five runs.

The Pirates looked like they might have an opportunity in the seventh when McCutchen doubled to the gap, but he fell in between second and third and got caught in a rundown. Then in the eighth, Travis Snider hit a two-out RBI double, and the Bucs loaded the bases behind him on a walk and an HBP. But Jose Tabata grounded out weakly to end the inning with the score stuck at 5-4.

In the ninth, McCutchen led off with an infield single and moved up on a botched pickoff attempt. Pedro Alvarez then miraculously reached base on a 1-2 count against Aroldis Chapman, thanks to an error by Zack Cozart, and McCutchen moved up to third with no outs. Martin popped up, though, and Michael McKenry and Mercer struck out to end the game with two men on.