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Shoddy defense ruins Pirates in nightcap

VanMeter figures in two misplays in pivotal seventh in 5-1 loss

MLB: Game Two-Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Subpar defensive play in the seventh inning proved to be fatal Thursday night and resulted in the Pittsburgh Pirates settling for a split of their doubleheader with the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark.

The host Reds took advantage of several miscues in the seventh that turned a 1-1 tie into a 5-1 lead, and that’s the way it ended.

The defensive lapses ruined a solid start from Bryce Wilson, who gave up just one run and five hits in his first six innings of work before his defense betrayed him in the seventh.

Wilson, who did not walk a batter and struck out four, retired the first two hitters in the seventh and then Nick Senzel reached safely when second baseman Josh VanMeter booted his two-hop chopper up the middle.

VanMeter figured into the next play as well, when Michael Papierski launched a fly ball to short right field. VanMeter appeared to have a bead on it, but peeled off at the last minute and right fielder Ben Gamel’s attempt at a diving catch came up short.

That put runners at first and third, and Jonathan India followed with a base hit to right, driving home Senzel with the go-ahead run.

After Chris Stratton replaced Wilson, Brandon Drury tripled to right, scoring two more runs and the fourth run of the inning scored when Tommy Pham singled.

Prior to the seventh, the only run Wilson surrendered came in the sixth when he yielded a two-out homer to Tyler Naquin.

Wilson wound up going 6 2/3 innings and gave up seven hits and four runs, with just one of them earned.

The Pirates pushed across their first run in the third off Ross Detwiler when Gamel doubled with one out and after Bryan Reynolds struck out, Daniel Vogelbach delivered an RBI single.

Wilson, the 24-year-old right-hander obtained from Atlanta late last season, had his second straight effective start. In his previous outing, which came on July 2, he gave up eight hits, two runs – both earned — and a walk while striking out four in six innings.