Pittsburgh had a tough task with Luis Castillo on the mound for the Reds and Nick Kingham in charge of keeping the damage to a minimum for the first game of the doubleheader in Cincinnati. In the end, the Reds’ bullpen couldn’t keep the game knotted at four and the Pirates rode a four-run 8th to an 8-5 victory.
Kingham wasn’t great but he wasn’t bad either, giving up three runs on seven hits through 4.2 innings pitched. He also produced five strikeouts and yeilded just one walk.
Unable to get through the fifth, Kingham was replaced by Richard Rodriguez, who got the final out of the inning. Kingham gave up a trio of doubles that ultimately created a 3-1 lead for the Reds in the bottom of the fifth, then Rodriguez came in and whiffed Derek Dietrich with a 92 MPH four-seam fastball.
Pittsburgh evened the game up against Castillo with a pair of singles from Melky Cabrera and Colin Moran. One run was plated by a fielder’s choice which drove in Cabrera.
Gregory Polanco then tied the game with a single which drove in Elias Diaz.
Pittsburgh struck again in the seventh when an ugly swing by Josh Bell drove an 86 MPH slider from Amir Garrett over the left field wall.
Cincinnati countered in the bottom of the innings with a Joey Votto line-drive single (after a pair of walks to Jose Peraza and Nick Senzel) off of Francisco Lirano. Peraza crossed the plate after the next at bat, a sacrifice fly from Eugenio Suarez.
Any momentum the Reds were building was lost when the doors were blown off in the top of the 8th. David Hernandez gave up a double to Cole Tucker, then hit Adam Frazier, followed by an 82 MPH curveball that was rocked by Bryan Reynolds for a two-run triple.
Starling Marte drove the nail in the coffin with a two-run homer off a hung 87 MPH slider.
Never able to rest easy, things got a little hairy for the Pirates. Manager Clint Hurdle turned to Felipe Vazquez to get the last out in the bottom of the eight and stuck with the closer to get the final outs in the ninth. After giving up singles to Suarez and Votto, Vazquez struck out Kyle Farmer following four straight curveballs.
A sacrifice fly from Curt Casali brought the Reds one run closer, and with the dangerous Yasiel Puig on deck, it had all the makings of a late game meltdown. But, Vazquez tightened up and drew a first pitch ground out to seal an important 8-5 road victory.
The Pirates will go for the doubleheader sweep at 7:10 tonight which features the debut of Pirates prospect Mitch Keller.