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The Cincinnati Reds had beaten the Pittsburgh Pirates nine times in 10 encounters this season and in the Half of them got double-digit runs. So Derek Shelton was aware that their line-up had some punch.
With the pirates at the top of the Reds ranks at the bottom of ninth place and three hitters who had 20 or more home runs, Shelton suspected there might be trouble if their lead was six runs up two shrank.
With two outs, Nick Castellanos drove Chris Stratton’s first pitch fastball 421 feet into the midfield seats. But Stratton got Joey Votto to swing low and in on a slider to save the Pirates’ 6-5 victory Tuesday night from an announced crowd of 8,896 at PNC Park.
“He went through the heart of a really good lineup right there,” Shelton said of Stratton, who scored his fifth save the same day David Bednar was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right helical strain . “He’s playing in leverage innings and he’s pitched in high-leverage sevenths and eighths. Now we’ve moved him to the ninth and I think tonight is probably the ninth most leverage inning he got because he has several guys over 20 homers and a line-up he was really good against and he ran pitches. ”
The win against the Reds (75-70) required a strong start. Cincinnati had outdone the Pirates this season with 82:26 in a 9: 1 against their NL central enemy. The Pirates’ only win was a 7-2 win on May 11, so he scored three runs each in the first and fifth innings against a team that came into play in a three-way tie for a place with wild cards.
“We know they are on the wildcard hunt, this and that,” said pirate outfielder Ben Gamel, who went 2 for 4 with an RBI. “But winning baseball games is fun. It doesn’t matter who you play against. ”
It was the fifth win in their last seven games for the Pirates (53-91) as left-handed Dillon Peters (1-2) allowed five hits and a walk with five strikeouts in five goalless innings for his first win.
“We’re going out to attack hitters and get ahead of the hitters,” said Peters. “If you do that, you will move forward, you will stay ahead and you will be successful against any line-up. So, no, it didn’t add any extra fuel to the fire. We just knew what we wanted to do with these guys and just kept throwing it in. ”
On the same day he was announced as the team’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, Pirates catcher Jacob Stallings went 2 for 4 and ran in runs with a singles in the first and a doubles in the fifth. Stallings did this behind first baseman Yoshi Tsutsugo, who also went 2 for 4 with RBI singles in the first and fifth.
Reds leftist Wade Miley (12-6) had thrown 13 goalless innings in two previous starts against the Pirates this season, a 14-1 win on April 6 and a 10-0 win on April 6 August. This time he gave five deserved runs with 10 hits and two walks while a batter was beaten in 4 1/3 innings.
The Pirates got to Miley early, scoring three runs in the first inning. Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a lead-off single, moved up to second with Kevin Newman’s victim colorful, and took a 1-0 lead with Tsutsugo’s single to the right. Tsutsugo was caught first, but Stallings hit right to meet Bryan Reynolds to make it 2-0. Gamel drove to 3-0 in Stallings.
The Pirates bolstered their lead, scoring three more runs in the bottom of Miley’s fifth. Newman started with a single and met Tsutsugo’s single to the center left. Reds leftfielder Aristides Aquino’s throw to the plate hit the tip of Reynolds’ helmet and jumped towards the home shelter, allowing Reynolds to take a 5-0 lead. Stallings doubled the left field line and made Tsutsugo 6-0.
“We didn’t miss our place. We milled through at-bats, ”said Gamel. “Key got us off with a bang, got us going. We set up a three in the first inning, just kept building and continued to grind on bats. We pushed six over them. ”
Shelton said the long inning, combined with Peters, who threw 80 pitches in his second start since leaving the IL, made him turn to the bullpen. That move backfired when the Reds rallied for four runs with five hits against emergency helper Nick Mears.
It started with a base-loaded, double bloop single to the right of Tucker Barnhart. After visiting the hill, Shelton left Mears to face Mike Moustakas who had loaded the bases for Jonathan India. Hayes put India’s grounder in third place and tried to turn a doubles game, but India beat Wilmer Difo’s throw from second place to score Max Shrock and cut it to 6-3. Kyle Farmer followed right field with a flyball as it sailed past a diving gamel to make Barnhart 6-4.
While the Reds Reliefs Justin Wilson, Luis Cessa and Amir Garrett pulled down the final 12 batters, Chasen Shreve of the Pirates Lefty hit two perfect innings to set the stage for the ninth inning. While Shelton only used one pinch hitter in the game, Reds manager David Bell used five.
“Look at their roster at the bottom of how they put their September roster together – and I think you saw David using his entire September roster today – he’s got seven guys on the bench, so he can mix and match. ”Shelton said. “That went into the way we used the bullpen because we knew it would get aggressive with it. They’re a good attacking club and we’ve seen them return to the first series over and over there, so we just have to keep playing.
“I think the big part of that game was Chasen Shreve. Going through two innings with what he did really captivated us and he did pitches. ”
That put the pirates in a safe position for a team, potential problems for a team with no seaman. Stratton made India swing, Asdrubal Cabrera hit Gamel on Clemente Wall before Castellanos hit his 29th home run, shortening it to 6-5. Stratton bounced back and got Votto to make it to the final and score a long-awaited win over the Reds.
Kevin Gorman is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or on Twitter.
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