After getting swept from Chicago over the weekend in Pittsburgh, Manager Clint Hurdle was repetitive with what needed to be done to get the Pirates out of their rough stretch.
“Everything is in front of us,” Hurdle said on Sunday after the loss. “We need to win games. You don’t need more incentives than being in the place we’re in right now. You need to win more games.”
The Pirates kicked off a three game set against first place Cincinnati in a big series needing to make ground. They entered game action just 2.5 back of St. Louis, despite losing 20 of their last 29 games. With 23 games left of the regular season, the Bucs need to get hot during the stretch, but lost a heart breaker in extras on Monday.
After the bullpen battled over 6.1 scoreless frames against the Reds’ tough offense, Cincinnati walked off in the bottom of the 14th inning. Right-hander Rick VandenHurk made his Pirates debut in the frame after the club selected him from Triple-A Indianapolis today. VandenHurk’s first batter, Devin Mesoraco, singled to left field. After catcher Michael McKenry chose to unsuccessfully try and get the runner at second on a ground ball, the Reds quickly put two runners on and no outs. The right-hander was aggressive and got a fly out to left, then picked up his first punchout to Joey Votto for the second out of the frame. But a wild pitch from VandenHurk advanced the runners, and former Bucco Ryan Ludwick hit an infield single to short for the walkoff win.
But the Pirates had opportunities to capitalize against Cincinnati, and failed to do so.
Pittsburgh had bases loaded rally’s against the Reds in the 10th and 14th innings, but failed to score a run in each of those frames.
Aroldis Chapman started the 10th with back-to-back walks. The lefty flame thrower threw just one strike between his at-bats with Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones, while dealing with velocity loss, hitting mid 90’s. With two outs, both runners advanced to second and third on the passed ball from the left-hander. After that, Gaby Sanchez drew the third walk of the inning to load the bases, as the Reds’ Manager Dusty Baker took out their closer and brought in right-hander Sam Lecure to face pinch-hitter Michael McKenry. But the catcher fell behind 1-2, and took a grounder to third to leave the bases loaded.
Brock Holt led off the 14th inning with a double rocketed to left center field. Pinch hitter Eric Fryer attempted to bunt Holt to third, but ended up working the count full and drew a walk. Andrew McCutchen came up to the plate next and tapped the ball just fair up the third base line for an infield single to load the bases. But they were unable to push a run across the plate.
Chase d’Arnaud hit a fly ball to center, but the fly out wasn’t deep enough to place Holt from third. Pedro Alvarez hit a grounder to first. The Reds threw home to get the runner at home plate for the second out and Jose Tabata grounded out to leave the bases stranded.
Overall on the night, the Pirates left 15 on base while going just 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position. With the loss, the club picks up their fourth straight and fall to 72-68 on the season.
Rodriguez Scoreless Streak Snapped
Wandy Rodriguez entered game action with a 13.0 consecutive inning scoreless streak, not having allowed runs in back-to-back outings against St. Louis and Houston his last trips to the mound. And on Monday in Cincinnati, Rodriguez was sharp.
The veteran lefty was perfect through his first three frames going nine up, nine down. It wasn’t until one out in the fourth that Rodriguez allowed his first hit and run. The scoreless inning streak snapped at 16.1 innings as Chris Heisey went deep to left field. Rodriguez allowed a walk also in the inning, but was able to leave the runner stranded.
Rodriguez went on to retire his next seven straight, which included three strikeouts — two looking during that span.
Rodriguez allowed just the second hit of the game –a single to Joey Votto to right field — to start the seventh inning. After getting back-to-back fielders choices, the second was a bang-bang play that was close to being a double play to end the inning, Todd Frazier hit an infield single to end Rodriguez’s outing. Manager Clint Hurdle called upon right-hander Jared Hughes from the bullpen, who gave up a double to right field to clear the bases and tie the game up at 3.
Overall, Rodriguez allowed three runs on three hits with a walk and five strikeouts. The lefty threw 89 pitches, 65 strikes.
Walker Takes Batting Practice
— Neil Walker (low back) took regular batting practice on Monday. The second baseman also worked on defensive work and running drills. Walker is scheduled to hit in Jeff Karstens sim game at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday, and hopes to be available to at least pinch hit on Wednesday.