Wilmer Difo raced home from second on a groundout with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Pittsburgh Pirates a 5-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday at PNC Park, dealing the visitors another blow in their attempt to capture a National League Wild Card berth.
The Bucs, playing at home on Roberto Clemente Day, knocked off the Reds for the second straight night and will look to make it three in a row when the two teams square off Thursday at 12:35 p.m. at PNC Park.
Difo stroked a one-out double in the ninth and after Bryan Reynolds was walked intentionally, Colin Moran hit a ground ball off Reds first baseman Joey Votto’s glove near the outfield grass. Votto threw to pitcher Mychal Givens covering first to get Moran, but Difo never stopped running, motoring around third and scoring with a head-first dive ahead of Givens’ throw home.
The Pirates got a solid start Wednesday night from Mitch Keller, who overcame a rocky first inning to go five innings and was in line for a win until the bullpen coughed up a 4-2 lead.
Keller spotted the Reds a 2-0 lead in the first, throwing 32 pitches, but settled down and held Cincinnati scoreless for the rest of his outing.
Keller wound up giving up four hits and two walks while striking out three. He threw 92 pitches, 58 of which were strikes.
The Pirates wiped out an early 2-0 deficit with three runs in the third, Keller started the rally with a base hit and after he was forced at second by Ke’Bryan Hayes, Hayes swiped second. Yoshi Tsutsugo drove Hayes home with a double and moved to third on an error, then scored when Reynolds tripled to right.
Moran then plated Reynolds with the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly to left.
The Bucs tacked on another run in the fourth on a walk to Hoy Park, Keller’s sacrifice bunt, a fielder’s choice and Tsutsugo’s single to center.
The Reds jumped on Keller for two runs in the first inning after a 25-minute rain delay pushed back the start of the game.
Leadoff batter Jonathan India opened the game with a single and Keller walked Max Schrock. Nick Castellanos flied out deep to center, allowing India to reach third, and Schrock stole second to put runners at second and third.
Votto followed by grounding out to second, driving home India and moving Schrock to third.
Mike Moustakas then delivered a base hit to left, bringing Schrock in from third with the second run of the game.
India’s sacrifice fly in the seventh cut the Pirates’ lead to 4-3 and Kyle Farmer’s solo homer off Sam Howard in the eighth tied the score at 4-4.