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Meadows shines bright, Nova doesn’t, as Pirates fall short by one

MLB: San Diego Padres at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pirates’ rookie center-fielder Austin Meadows slammed a two run homer in the ninth, hit third in a week since his recall and his third hit of the game, but it was for naught when Gregory Polanco’s long fly was caught on the warning track.

In the six games since his recall last Friday, Meadows has a .440 batting average (11 for 25), with two doubles and three homers, with only a single strikeout.

The game was scoreless into the bottom of the third when opposing pitcher Luis Castillo led off with a five-pitch walk against the normally strike throwing Nova. Leadoff hitter Jesse Winker then laced a single through the right side. With runners at first and second Jose Peraza popped up an attempted sacrifice bunt right back to Nova. Cincinnati announcers speculated that the pitcher should have let the ball fall in order to get both lead runners, who were retreating to their bases, but the routine catch was made, netting the first out of the inning. Scooter Gennett topped a ball down the first base line, and with the batter running into the grass in fair territory, Nova’s flip over Gennett’s head skipped off the glove of David Freese at first base for a throwing error. With the bases loaded, Eugenio Suarez lofted a 2-2 hanging curve, hit at 95 mph, into the seats down the left field line for a grand slam.

The hard throwing Castillo was having little issue with the Pirates batters and the Reds extended their lead to 5-0 when Winker hit a bomb into the center field bullpen, his first homer of the year.

At that point it didn’t seem to matter much when Freese blasted a ball at 110 mph into the upper deck in left, scoring Adam Frazier who had walked, and cutting the Reds lead to 5-2.

Tyler Glasnow pitched two strong innings in the seventh and eighth, allowing only one hit and no walks along with a pair of strikeouts.

Amir Garrett had come in to put out a mini Pirates rally in the seventh, striking out Josh bell to end the inning and also two of the three batters in the eighth. Remaining in for the ninth, en route to a long save, Garrett finally allowed a base runner as Corey Dickerson beat out a slow roller to third. The lefty appeared to still be on his game as he punched out the pinch hitter Jose Osuna, but Meadows took Garrett deep to right for the second time in two games, putting the Pirates only a single run behind.

Former Pirate Jared Hughes was then called on to spring in from the bullpen and got the second out as Gennett’s throw from second barely beat Elias Diaz to the bag at first. Down to their final out, Grgeory Polanco stepped in to pinch hit for Sena Rodriguez, and on a 1-1 pitch hit a fly to deep right, but one that Scott Schebler pulled in easily, halfway onto the warning track.

The Pirates have now won only a single game in each of their last two series, both against weak teams, and at the moment are tied with the Cardinals for second place, 3.5 games behind the Brewers, and a half game ahead of the Cubs.

Pittsburgh will return home Friday night at 7:05 p.m. as Joe Musgrove, obtained from Houstoj in the Gerrit Cole trade, will make his season debut after being sidelined with a sore shoulder.