The Pirates' season of great expectations hasn't gotten off to an auspicious start. Their hitters struggled against Anthony DeSclafani, making just his sixth career start after posting a 6.27 ERA last year with the Marlins, and a Gregory Polanco muff let in the winning run with one out in the ninth. The win gave the Reds a sweep of the three-game series, leaving the Pirates to go to Milwaukee 0-3.
A.J. Burnett gave the Pirates a good start, holding the Reds scoreless through the first five innings. The Pirates took the lead in the 4th when Pedro Alvarez and Jordy Mercer led off the inning with singles. Tony Sanchez fanned, Burnett bunted the runners over without suffering any injury, and Josh Harrison was hit by a pitch. Polanco followed with a soft liner that shortstop Zack Cozart one-hopped. When Cozart looked to second only to find the hustling Harrison already there, Polanco reached safely with a single. The Pirates got only the one run when Andrew McCutchen bounced out.
Alvarez made it 2-0 the next inning with an opposite field HR. Alvarez is showing unaccustomed, early-season signs of life; he also had a nice, sliding catch of a foul pop near the stands.
Burnett unfortunately gave the runs back in the next half inning, surrendering a two-run shot to Joey Votto. That came with one out and ended Burnett's day, even though he'd thrown only 87 pitches. He allowed just four hits and a walk, with seven strikeouts, in five and a third. Since control problems were a major issue for him in his injury-plagued 2014 season with the Phillies, it's an encouraging sign.
The Pirates once again were helpless against the Reds' bullpen. Burke Badenhop, Jumbo Diaz and some Cuban guy each threw a scoreless inning, with Diaz fanning the side. Arquimedes Caminero, Antonio Bastardo and Tony Watson responded with two and two-thirds scoreless frames themselves.
Fortunately, Clint Hurdle was then able to turn to John Holdzkom Clint Hurdle then went with Rob Scahill, who promptly gave up a line-drive double to Albert Pujols Todd Frazier. A weak grounder moved Frazier to third. After an intentional walk, Marlon Byrd hit a line drive to shallow right. With Polanco playing in, it's unlikely the run would have scored, but Polanco dropped the liner and the game ended.