Cincinnati rookie right-fielder Jesse Winker’s solo homer off newly acquired aged reliever Joaquin Benoit broke a 7th inning 2-2 tie, while Adam Duvall sealed the victory with a two-run shot in the 9th off the not-quite-so-invincible Felipe Rivero.
For the second straight game Pittsburgh’s batters could only score a single run off a starting pitcher with an earned run average on the bad side of 7, as Robert Stephenson allowed only two hits and two walks in 5 1⁄3 innings.
Pirates’ starter Trevor Williams had only allowed one base runner through the first three innings (a pop fly single by Jose Peraza) and thus had kept the Reds off the board until the 4th when both Winker and Joey Votto singled on well placed ground balls. With runners at first and third Duvall then lined a sacrifice fly to deep left field.
Williams had still only allowed those three singles and one walk entering the sixth, but Votto led off the inning with a double over Andrew McCutchen’s head. After Duvall lined out, Scooter Gennett reached on an infield hit and Eugenio Suarez walked to load the bases. At 95 pitches, Williams night was done. Reliever Daniel Hudson got Peraza on a short fly to right, but walked Tucker Barnhart to force in the run, giving the Reds a 2-0 lead.
The Pirates fought back to tie the game in the bottom of the 7th. Marte led off with a bunt single, and after a wild pitch was at second base with two outs when the Reds’ starter Stephenson was lifted for Michael Lorenzen - who promptly allowed a screaming line drive to Josh Bell that just missed the pitcher and went into center for a hit. Marte was only rounding third when Billy Hamilton unleashed his throw which beat Marte to the plate, but his slide knocked the ball out of the catcher Barnhart;s glove. Bell took second on the throw, and then scored the tying run when David Freese grounded a single through the right side.
The fan’s hopes were short-lived as Winker, the second batter to face the just acquired Benoit drilled a pitch into the b ack row of the right field bleachers. In the 9th, Hamilton poked a Rivero change into left for a leadoff single. After Winker and Votto were quickly dispatched on strikes, Rivero appeared to be distracted by the base runner Hamilton and left a pitch that Duvall lined into the left field seats.
The Pirates will hope to salvage the final game of the series on Thursday. If successful, it would be the fourth consecutive series of a win versus two losses. The last three of those series have been against the Giants, Padres and Reds, markedly poor teams.