|Pittsburgh (43-30) «||0||0||1||0||0||1||3||0||0||5||10||2|
Alvarez drove in all of Pittsburgh's runs with a solo homer, bases-loaded double and a single on Thursday for a 5-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds and a split of their high-profile NL Central series.
The Pirates remain a half-game behind second-place Cincinnati after the four-game set, keeping them virtually shoulder-to-shoulder as they chase the torrid St. Louis Cardinals.
After blowing a one-run lead in the ninth and losing 2-1 in 13 innings on Wednesday night, Pittsburgh salvaged a game behind Alvarez and a bullpen running on fumes.
"We needed a big day from a number of people today and Pedro was one of them," manager Clint Hurdle said. "There was no bigger swing than with the bases loaded, left-on-left. Beautiful."
Alvarez had an RBI single and his 16th homer off Homer Bailey, who couldn't follow his no-hitter against Pittsburgh last season with a win. After Alfredo Simon (5-3) loaded the bases in the seventh, Alvarez doubled off left-hander Tony Cingrani to snap a 2-all tie.
The five RBI were a season high for a Pirate and one shy of Alvarez's career high. The third baseman has been Pittsburgh's top run producer in June, leading the team with 48 RBI overall.
It's quite a change. Alvarez hit .180 in April and .225 in May before finding his form. He has six homers in June, second most in the NL.
"I just think it's repetition and getting the opportunity to go out and try to gain as much experience as I can from every day out there," Alvarez said.
Bryan Morris (4-2) contributed to the go-ahead rally with his first career single. He also pitched two innings, allowing one run. Left-hander Tony Watson pitched the final two innings for his second save in three chances.
The Pirates lead the season series 6-4, holding their own early in the season despite a rotation that has been sapped by injuries and a lineup that strikes out a lot and wastes chances. Under the circumstances, the way the series ended was satisfying.
"We don't expect anything less," Morris said. "It's good to not lose any ground. Definitely would have loved to have three out of four in the series, but we're not complaining about the split, especially after the hard game last night."
The teams combined for seven homers in the series, all solo shots. Cincinnati hit four in a 4-1 win that opened it.
Brandon Cumpton made his second major-league start for Pittsburgh, giving up two runs -- one earned -- in five innings.
Bailey faced the Pirates for the first time since his no-hitter at PNC Park last September and left after six innings with the score tied at 2. He gave up six hits, throwing 113 pitches. Bailey is 8-2 career against Pittsburgh.
"They've definitely made strides over the past couple of years, but it's early," Bailey said. "They have a good club but the past couple of years, they've fallen into the pattern of fading, so we'll see. It's a long season."
Another batter got hit, extending a prominent theme to the Ohio River rivals' series this season. At least one batter has been plunked in each of the 10 games, with 19 hit overall. Pirate pitchers have hit 10, Reds pitchers 9, leaving some simmering unhappiness on both sides.
|Pedro Alvarez falls one short of his career high while driving in all five of the Pirates' runs. (USATSI)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Starling Marte, LF||5||1||2||0||0||2||1||.283|
|Jordy Mercer, SS||5||0||0||0||0||1||3||.272|
|Andrew McCutchen, CF||3||2||1||0||1||1||0||.287|
|Garrett Jones, RF||4||0||1||0||0||3||5||.264|
|Pedro Alvarez, 3B||4||1||3||5||0||1||2||.223|
|Gaby Sanchez, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||1||3||.237|
|Neil Walker, 2B||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.244|
|Michael McKenry, C||4||0||1||0||0||2||2||.210|
|Brandon Cumpton, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||2||.000|
|Bryan Morris, P||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||.250|
|Brandon Inge, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.193|
|a-fouled out for Morris in the 8th|
|2B - Starling Marte (11, Bailey), Pedro Alvarez (6, Cingrani), Neil Walker (8, Hoover)|
|HR - Pedro Alvarez (16, Bailey)|
|RBI - Pedro Alvarez 5 (48)|
|2-OUT RBI - Pedro Alvarez 4 (18)|
|SB - Starling Marte (22, 3rd base off Bailey/Hanigan)|
|CS - Neil Walker (2, 3rd base by Hoover/Hanigan)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|E - Pedro Alvarez (13, Throwing), Michael McKenry (1, Throwing)|
|Bryan Morris (W,4-2)||2||3||1||1||0||2||0||2.48|
|Tony Watson (S,2)||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||4.08|
|WP - Brandon Cumpton (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Brandon Cumpton 90-53, Bryan Morris 22-17, Tony Watson 23-15|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brandon Cumpton 7-4, Bryan Morris 3-1, Tony Watson 4-1|
|Batters Faced - Brandon Cumpton 20, Bryan Morris 9, Tony Watson 6|
|Shin-Soo Choo, CF||4||1||2||0||0||0||0||.280|
|Xavier Paul, LF||4||0||0||0||0||2||1||.255|
|Joey Votto, 1B||4||0||2||1||0||0||0||.324|
|Brandon Phillips, 2B||4||0||1||0||0||2||1||.272|
|Jay Bruce, RF||4||1||1||1||0||1||2||.277|
|Todd Frazier, 3B||3||0||1||0||0||0||1||.249|
|Donald Lutz, LF||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.250|
|Zack Cozart, SS||3||1||1||0||1||0||0||.244|
|Ryan Hanigan, C||4||0||0||0||0||1||3||.195|
|Homer Bailey, P||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||.154|
|Jack Hannahan, 3B||1||0||0||1||0||0||0||.200|
|2B - Zack Cozart (15, Morris)|
|HR - Jay Bruce (15, Cumpton)|
|RBI - Joey Votto (35), Jay Bruce (50), Jack Hannahan (7)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jay Bruce (15)|
|SB - Shin-Soo Choo (8, 2nd base off Cumpton/McKenry)|
|CS - Shin-Soo Choo (5, 2nd base by Cumpton/McKenry), Joey Votto (2, 2nd base by Cumpton/McKenry)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|E - Joey Votto (8, Throwing)|
|Alfredo Simon (L,5-3)||0.1||2||3||3||1||0||0||3.46|
|HBP - A. McCutchen (by Homer Bailey)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Homer Bailey 113-79, Alfredo Simon 14-9, Tony Cingrani 17-13, J.J. Hoover 25-17|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Homer Bailey 6-5, Tony Cingrani 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Homer Bailey 26, Alfredo Simon 4, Tony Cingrani 3, J.J. Hoover 6|
|Attendance - 40929|
|Game Time - 3:24|
|Temperature - 82|
|Umpires - Home - Paul Emmel, First Base - Chris Conroy, Second Base - Gary Darling, Third Base - Jerry Meals|