|Cincinnati (88-66) «||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||3||1||6||9||0|
Jordy Mercer provided one. The surging Reds took care of the rest.
A wild throw by the Pittsburgh shortstop with two outs in the ninth inning opened the door for a three-run rally off Pirates closer Mark Melancon that tied the game. Joey Votto's home run off Kyle Farnsworth an inning later won it as the Reds pulled off an improbable 6-5 victory to move into a tie with the Pirates. Both teams are two games behind St. Louis for the lead in the NL Central.
"That's really uncommon, really rare, and for us to have done that in a game like this, against this squad, against that pitcher, that makes it even more rare and pretty impressive," Votto said. "Guys just strung together a bunch of tough at-bats."
Ones that came after Mercer couldn't quite handle a slow grounder by Todd Frazier with one on and two outs in the ninth. Mercer charged the ball but couldn't get a grip on it and it ended up in the stands behind first base.
"If I make a good throw right there, the game is over and all the stuff that happened never happens," Mercer said. "It was tough. We played a great game, everybody played a great game and to have it happen like that, it's just a bad throw."
And the Pirates quickly unraveled.
Zack Cozart singled after Mercer's error to put runners on the corners. Cincinnati rookie base-stealing specialist Billy Hamilton pinch ran for Cozart and promptly swiped second then raced home when Devin Mesoraco ended a nine-pitch duel with Melancon by sending a sharp grounder that bounced off third baseman Pedro Alvarez and rolled onto the grass in shallow left field.
"I really just went up there and just thought about battling ..." Mesoraco said. "That was it. That was my only goal, just go up there, battle, battle, and hopefully leave one out over the plate that I could put a half-decent swing on and hopefully find a hole."
Melancon has been dominant since taking over the closer's role from Jason Grilli in July, but blew his second save in three days. San Diego rallied for a 3-2 win on Wednesday.
This one, however, will almost certainly be more difficult to overcome.
"That's a game we should have won and I think the Reds know that too," Melancon said.
"We hadn't come back in a long time, and we hadn't come back for a long time on the road," Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said.
Pittsburgh began the week 74-2 when leading after eight innings, but has now squandered ninth-inning leads twice in three nights.
"Who said it was going to be easy?" manager Clint Hurdle said. "Who said it was going to be easy? We've been very good winning as a team, losing as a team ... we've got to find a way to finish things off."
The Pirates appeared firmly in control through eight innings.
Francisco Liriano overwhelmed the Reds, allowing two runs on three hits, walking three and striking out seven. The left-hander needed only 94 pitches to record 24 outs, but told Hurdle he was done when he entered the dugout after striking out Brandon Phillips to end the eighth.
"He was fantastic," Hurdle said. "He said when he came off he laid it all out there."
Ryan Ludwick finished 3 for 5 for the Reds, while Frazier hit his 17th home run.
Jose Tabata and Neil Walker hit consecutive homers off Cincinnati starter Mat Latos in the first and Pittsburgh appeared en route to giving itself some breathing room as the franchise pursues its first playoff spot since 1992.
PNC Park, typically a ghost town this time of year as the Pirates play out the string, was electric when Pittsburgh took the field. The 21st sellout of the season included Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett and Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma.
Hurdle was ejected in the eighth for arguing after star Andrew McCutchen was hit by reliever Sam LeCure, who was given a warning by home plate umpire Mark Carlson ... The series continues on Saturday when Pittsburgh's A.J. Burnett (8-11, 3.43 ERA) faces Homer Bailey (11-10, 3.40). Bailey tossed his first career no-hitter in his previous start at PNC Park last September.
|Todd Frazier (left) and Billy Hamilton are pumped after rallying to tie the Pirates in the bottom of the ninth. (USATSI)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Shin-Soo Choo, CF||5||0||0||0||0||1||3||.283|
|J.J. Hoover, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Aroldis Chapman, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Brandon Phillips, 2B||4||1||0||0||1||1||0||.259|
|Joey Votto, 1B||4||1||1||1||1||1||1||.306|
|Ryan Ludwick, LF||5||1||3||1||0||0||1||.250|
|Jay Bruce, RF||5||0||0||0||0||1||2||.268|
|Todd Frazier, 3B||4||2||1||1||1||1||0||.236|
|Zack Cozart, SS||3||0||1||0||1||0||0||.255|
|Billy Hamilton, PR-CF||1||1||0||0||0||0||2||.375|
|Devin Mesoraco, C||4||0||2||2||0||0||1||.242|
|Derrick Robinson, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.247|
|Ryan Hanigan, C||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.202|
|Mat Latos, P||2||0||0||0||0||2||1||.130|
|Logan Ondrusek, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Manny Parra, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.500|
|a-Chris Heisey, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.225|
|Sam LeCure, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b-Xavier Paul, PH||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.246|
|Cesar Izturis, SS||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.194|
|a-struck out for Parra in the 8th|
|b-singled for LeCure in the 9th|
|2B - Devin Mesoraco (13, Liriano)|
|HR - Joey Votto (24, Farnsworth), Todd Frazier (17, Liriano)|
|RBI - Joey Votto (71), Ryan Ludwick (11), Todd Frazier (70), Devin Mesoraco 2 (41)|
|2-OUT RBI - Ryan Ludwick (3), Devin Mesoraco 2 (14)|
|SB - Brandon Phillips (5, 2nd base off Liriano/Martin), Billy Hamilton (10, 2nd base off Melancon/Martin)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|DP - Cozart-B. Phillips-Votto, Cozart-B. Phillips-Votto-Cozart-B. Phillips-Votto|
|J.J. Hoover (W,5-5)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||2.84|
|Aroldis Chapman (S,38)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||2.63|
|HBP - A. McCutchen (by Sam LeCure)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Mat Latos 88-61, Logan Ondrusek 11-9, Manny Parra 6-4, Sam LeCure 26-15, J.J. Hoover 10-9, Aroldis Chapman 10-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mat Latos 5-9, Logan Ondrusek 1-0, Sam LeCure 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Mat Latos 25, Logan Ondrusek 3, Manny Parra 1, Sam LeCure 5, J.J. Hoover 3, Aroldis Chapman 3|
|Jose Tabata, LF||4||1||2||2||0||0||0||.280|
|Starling Marte, PR-LF||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.279|
|Neil Walker, 2B||5||1||1||1||0||1||0||.251|
|Andrew McCutchen, CF||3||0||0||0||1||0||0||.323|
|Justin Morneau, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||0||1||.261|
|a-Gaby Sanchez, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.255|
|Marlon Byrd, RF||2||1||1||0||2||0||1||.287|
|Pedro Alvarez, 3B||4||1||2||0||0||1||3||.229|
|Russell Martin, C||4||0||1||1||0||1||3||.229|
|Jordy Mercer, SS||3||1||2||1||0||0||0||.282|
|b-Travis Snider, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.218|
|Clint Barmes, SS||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.217|
|Francisco Liriano, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||1||.067|
|Mark Melancon, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Tony Watson, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c-Garrett Jones, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.234|
|Kyle Farnsworth, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Bryan Morris, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.200|
|a-struck out for Morneau in the 10th|
|b-fouled out for Mercer in the 9th|
|c-flied out for Watson in the 9th|
|HR - Jose Tabata (6, Latos), Neil Walker (12, Latos)|
|SH - Francisco Liriano (5)|
|RBI - Jose Tabata 2 (32), Neil Walker (49), Russell Martin (53), Jordy Mercer (25)|
|CS - Starling Marte (15, 2nd base by Parra/Mesoraco), Russell Martin (5, 3rd base by Latos/Mesoraco)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|DP - Liriano-Walker-Morneau|
|E - Jordy Mercer (14, Throwing(B. Hamilton replaces Z. Cozart on a 1-0 count.))|
|Mark Melancon (BS,4)||0.2||3||3||0||0||1||0||1.30|
|Kyle Farnsworth (L,3-1)||0.2||2||1||1||1||0||1||4.95|
|Pitches-Strikes - Francisco Liriano 94-62, Mark Melancon 18-15, Tony Watson 9-5, Kyle Farnsworth 20-11, Bryan Morris 4-2|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Francisco Liriano 11-5, Mark Melancon 2-0, Tony Watson 1-0, Kyle Farnsworth 1-1, Bryan Morris 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Francisco Liriano 29, Mark Melancon 6, Tony Watson 2, Kyle Farnsworth 5, Bryan Morris 1|
|Attendance - 37940|
|Game Time - 3:37|
|Temperature - 77|
|Umpires - Home - Mark Carlson, First Base - Gerry Davis, Second Base - Dan Iassogna, Third Base - Brian Knight|