It appeared for a while that the Pirates would fly under the radar to a tricky little win, but, in the ninth inning, the Reds squeaked out the tying run off new closer Tony Watson.
Not to worry.
David Ortiz Sean Rodriguez stepped up to lead off the bottom of the ninth and lined a Ross Ohlendorf fastball into the left-field bleachers for a 3-2 Pirates win on Friday night.
Rodriguez had come in as a defensive replacement at first base in the eighth. The homer was his first since July 10, but his 11th of the season, which is about eight or nine more than I expected coming into the season. This one came off a 95 MPH fastball, from which I glean Ross Ohlendorf throws 95 these days, apparently.
The Reds took a quick 1-0 lead with three singles off Jameson Taillon in the first. Taillon settled in to go six innings. He allowed six hits, but struck out six and walked one and that was the only run he gave up.
The Pirates offense continued to struggle in the early innings, with one hit through four. In the fifth, though, they cleverly manufactured a couple to take a 2-1 lead. David Freese led off with a walk, then beleaguered first baseman John Jaso drove one to the center-field wall, where, to the naked eye, Billy Hamilton made a heck of a catch. Upon review, though, the ball hit the wall when Hamilton had lost control, and Jaso and Freese were sent to second and third, respectively. A Francisco Cervelli sacrifice fly tied it. Jaso broke for home and Jordy Mercer laid down a gorgeous squeeze bunt to give the Bucs the lead.
Things were looking good from there. Felipe Rivero set the Reds down 1-2-3 in the seventh. Neftali Feliz got in trouble with a couple walks, but fanned Scott Schebler for the final out on a fastball listed as 99.8 MPH by Gameday -- the stadium gun showed a more dramatic even 100.
Watson walked Eugenio Suarez to lead off the ninth, then Suarez was sacrificed to second by Tucker Barnhart. During an at-bat by another old friend, Ramon Cabrera, Suarez stole third, allowing Cabrera's fly to left to tie the score at 2.
No Pirate had multiple hits, but Andrew McCutchen walked twice and reached on an error.