Reds starter Edinson Volquez continued his first inning troubles. Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata started the game with consecutive home runs. Lyle Overbay walked and Neil Walker doubled. Volquez whiffed Pedro Alvarez before walking Garrett Jones. Chris Snyder walked to force in a run and Ronny Cedeno’s deep fly ball made it 4-0.
Cincinnati got one back in the second when Jonny Gomes homered off of Jeff Karstens. Three straight singles in the bottom of the fourth off Karstens brought home another run, with Paul Janish stroking the run producing knock. The wheels fell off in the next inning. Karstens was pulled after three straight one out hits. Miguel Cairo homered to make it 4-3. Joey Votto singled and Scott Rolen doubled to tie the game. Exit Karstens. Enter Daniel McCutchen. The other Cutch gave up a two out RBI single to Jay Bruce to put Cincy up 5-4.
The lead didn’t last long. Garrett Jones blasted a solo homer (by blasted I mean it was carried by the wind out to left field) with one gone in the top of the sixth to even it up. Ronny Cedeno walked with two outs prompting a pitching change. Jordan Smith faced pinch hitter John Bowker and he delivered an RBI double that put Pittsburgh up 6-5.
The Reds didn’t quit. Jose Veras was in his second inning of relief in the seventh when Jay Bruce homered with one out to knot the score at six each. A wild eighth inning put the Pirates up for good. Jones led off with a single. He reached third on an error by Reds reliever Logan Ondrusek that put Chris Snyder at first. Jones was forced at home by Cedeno but that play left two men on. After a pop out from Steve Pearce, McCutchen hit a two out, RBI single to put the Buccos on top.
But Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan made it interesting. Meek got one out and left with two men on in the eighth. Hanrahan got lucky when Rolen’s liner was snared by Cedeno. He flipped to walker for a double play. In the ninth, the Reds threatened again. With one out, Bruce tapped one in front of the plate. Snyder’s throw to first was wild. Bruce ran through the bag but turned toward second base when he saw the ball go into shallow right. Walker was backing up the play and quickly retrieved the ball. He tossed it to first where Overbay tagged Bruce who was trying to get back to first after making that commitment to second base (attention little leaguers – don’t do that during your games). But it wasn’t over. Edgar Renteria singled. Janish singled. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Ryan Hanigan walked. But Drew Stubbs flied out to McCutchen to end it.
Karstens went 4-1/3 and gave up five runs on eight hits. He whiffed six and walked one. Volquez tossed 5-2/3. He gave up five hits and six walks while K’ing six. He surrendered six runs. Chris Resop was the winner. He got the final out of the seventh inning with a man on second. Ondrusek took the loss. Hanrahan got the rocky, long save.
Cutch was 3-3 and walked twice.
The Pirates established a new 2011 high with seven runs.
Despite some rocky moments, the bullpen went 4-2/3 and allowed just one run.
Jones and Walker each had a pair of hits.
Pirate pitchers totalled double digit strikeouts for the second time this season.
I was hoping for a bit more from Karstens.
Pedro Alvarez was 0-4 and struck out two more times.
McCutchen’s day wasn’t all sunshine and roses. He was caught stealing when he over-slid the second base bag. And he committed an error.
I believe the last time the Pirates started their half of the first inning with consecutive home runs was way back on 7/5/1982 when Omar Moreno and one of my all-time favorite players, Johnny Ray, connected off of Joe Niekro of Houston.
McCutchen’s homer to start the game was his seventh career lead off dinger. That ties him for third all-time among Pirates with Bob Bailey. He’s behind Barry Bonds (20) and Al Martin (10). Moreno had five in his time with Pittsburgh.
Volquez has surrendered thirteen first inning runs in 2011.
Ondrusek’s loss was the first of his career.
This was the fourth time that Bruce rapped out four hits in a single contest.