Francisco Liriano was masterful in his eight innings Friday night. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Reds Stun Pirates in 6-5 Comeback Victory

It’s difficult to put into words what happened at PNC Park Friday night. Long story short, the Pirates held a 5-2 lead heading into the ninth inning and lost 6-5 after 10 innings.

With two outs in the top of the ninth and a man on second base, Jordy Mercer fielded a ground ball off the bat of Todd Frazier. Mercer fielded low, and threw it into the stands which gave Ryan Ludwick two bases to advance home and make the score 5-3.

Francisco Liriano was masterful in his eight innings Friday night. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Francisco Liriano was masterful in his eight innings Friday night. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

“You guys have been watching him play all year long, yeah, he makes the snap-throw from down there,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s done it numerous times, yeah. He just made an error.”

Devin Mesoraco then stepped in two batters later and smacked a ground ball to third base. Pedro Alvarez slid to stab the ball, spin, and gun to first like he’s done many times this season. But the ball glanced off his glove and two runs scored to tie the game at 5-5.

“It was a big-time duel, there’s no doubt. he was leaning out over the plate and continually fouling off balls. We tried to run a ball in I think, from what my perspective was watching it on TV, and he caught enough of it,” Hurdle said. “Pedro laid out for it, it’s off the glove, and it’s in no man’s land.”

In the top of the 10th, Joey Votto homered down the left field line to give the Reds the final run they needed to pull off an improbable and soul-crushing three-run comeback.

“We’ve gotta find a way to finish some things off here and just continue to play,” Hurdle said. “We did a lot of good things tonight, we couldn’t convert it into a W at the end of the night.”

The Pirates did do some things well Friday.

Francisco Liriano pitched eight innings and allowed two runs on three hits and three walks alongside seven strikeouts. His strikeouts Friday carried him over the threshold of 1,000 in his career, and set a Pirates club-record for strikeouts by a staff as his sixth strikeouts was no. 1,193 by the Pirates’ pitchers this season.

Leading off for the Pirates, Jose Tabata and Neil Walker hit solo home runs off two of the first four pitches Cincinnati Reds starter Mat Latos threw.  The feat was the fourth time in club history the Pirates started a game with back-to-back home runs.

Tabata finished 2-for-4 with his home run, and drove in another run in the seventh inning to extend Pittsburgh’s lead to 5-2.

On a night of so many positives, the result of the game was arguably the most difficult one for these 2013 Pirates.

Mercer’s throw was the low point but his teammates jumped to his defense.

“Jordy makes that play 99 out of 100 times. You know what, that doesn’t kill us. That doesn’t kill us. We still have an opportunity to win after that,” closer Mark Melancon said. “This is one game, obviously it’s late, we wanted that game, we should’ve won that game, that was our game to win. But it doesn’t kill us.”

Melancon blew his second save this week Friday, but the three runs to score at his expense were all unearned as a result of Mercer’s error.

“It just wasn’t a good throw…terrible throw,” Mercer said. “Obviously, if I make a good throw right there the game is over.”

The tension started when Sam LeCure hit Andrew McCutchen leading off the bottom of the eighth. Clint Hurdle went out to argue that LeCure should’ve been ejected, and Hurdle himself was tossed.

“I don’t understand a warning, if you’re going to warn, you thought there was intent to hit the guy, you should have thrown the guy out. First time he’d been hit, it’s our guy McCutchen that’d been hit,” Hurdle said.

If momentum shifted, it was likely at that moment. Now, the Pirates shift their attitudes to tomorrow.

“A loss is a loss,” Walker said. “We’re going to get back on the horse tomorrow, we believe in everyone we have here.”



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Nate Barnes

Nate covers the Pirates beat for Pirates Prospects, and is an English Writing major at the University of Pittsburgh. Nate has covered the Pirates for Pittsburgh Sports Report, and covered Pitt Men's Basketball, Duquesne Men's Basketball, and Pitt Baseball beats prior to this summer. You can find Nate on Twitter @NateBarnes_ where he'll keep you updated on each and every time Clint Barmes breaks up a no-hit bid with one-out in the third inning of ballgames.

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  • TarHeelBucco

    SEPTEMBER 21, 2013
    I blame hurdle for this loss. Was his little unemotional rant suppose to convince us, his team, who that he was protecting Cutch?
    He was just out here all full of himself acting like a jerk for the cameras while there was still a very important game to win. Barmes should have been playing in the 9th and yes I know that Hurdle could have been managing from the tunnel but he was probably in the clubhouse seeing how his big fat red face looked on camera. He lost focus last night as well as mercer and you just can’t have that this time of year. Not with this cincy team that is already in the boys’ heads. I’m totally sick this morning. Maybe I’m overreacting but I don’t think I am

  • rsborelli

    TarHeelBucco, as I was watching last night – as soon as Hurdle got tossed, I said to myself, “uhhhh…. this game’s not over – probably not a good situation to get yourself run.” If there is blame for Hurdle in this one, it is simply not having Barmes out there at SS in the 9th. If Marte went in to left for Tabata, why would Barmes not be at short? If I am comparing the substitutions, Barmes over Mercer is a greater defensive upgrade than Marte over Tabata. That certainly was a play Mercer should have made. Looked to me like he totally non-chalanted that play. Very frustrating loss, for sure. Can still win this series, but after the loss to Pads Weds and this one, I am getting a sinking feeling about all of this.

  • Kozy21

    I think he should’ve left Frank in to start the 9th. He was at 94 pitches and was cruising. Melancon has been off lately. The moment I saw Melancon was in the game I got worried.

    • krinks35

      Agreed. Hurdle once again blew a chance at a win. He knew Melancon struggled the last time out and Liriano had a low pitch count. There was no reason to not bring him out for the 9th. It is not as if he is Cole and his innings are getting up there or anything.
      When you have one of the lowest batting averages with runners in scoring position in all of baseball there is no room for error.

  • skliesen

    Easy to play the blame game. Lord knows that was my gut reaction. But here’s the facts. Pirates are almost certainly headed to the playoffs. They have the SP, bullpen, defense and offense to have a legit chance to win it all. Let’s not let a tough loss change our focus off the big picture. Pirates bounced back earlier this week after a tough loss. Here’s to them doing it again.

    • krinks35

      Sorry but now they are looking at a road game in Cincy. If they are lucky they would win the division and face the Dodgers. Since they are choke artists now they will have a one game sudden death in Cincy. If they survive that we get to watch Atlanta make fools of them once again. I never got over the last time and don’t wish to relive those days. It is win the division or go home.

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