After sinking to the lowest of the low’s on Friday night by getting no-hit, the Bucs bounced back to delay their 82nd loss by at least another day. It was a close game, with both starters throwing well. The stage was set for some dramatics in the ninth, and Cutch stepped up.
Kyle McPherson, still looking for his first big-league win, took the hill and looked great. He got into a jam in the first, but retired the Reds’ 3-4-5 hitters to strand two runners and avoid any first-inning runs. He pitched six innings, shutting out the Reds by giving up just four hits. Although he got the no-decision and couldn’t pick up his first win, he finished off his rookie season well and set himself up for a potential roster spot in 2013.
The Pirates couldn’t get much going at the plate. Mike Leake matched McPherson with six innings of four-hit ball, with the only real chance of scoring against him coming in the second when Pedro Alvarez hit a ground-rule double.
The bullpens took over, and the Bucs scratched out a run. Clint Barmes singled to left, got to second on an overthrown pickoff, and was bunted over to third. Clint Hurdle decided that pinch-running Chase d’Arnaud for 90 feet was more important than leaving Barmes’ defense in the game. If he’d been on second with two outs, this might make more sense. Regardless, Alex Presley doubled to the gap and it didn’t matter who was on third because they scored easily. 1-0 Bucs with the back of the bullpen ready to take over.
After a plethora of defensive replacements, Jason Grilli continued to struggle. He couldn’t escape Ryan Ludwick‘s leadoff double and gave up the tying run with two outs. The Pirates left two runners on base in the eighth, and same with the Reds in the ninth. Joel Hanrahan got out of the inning after giving up two walks.
Enter Andrew McCutchen. With one out, Cutch stepped into the box against Jonathan Broxton. He smoked an opposite-field walk-off bomb to right-center. His third career walk-off couldn’t have come at a better time. The crowd needed something to cheer about, and they couldn’t have asked for anything better. Cutch might be slipping from the MVP and batting title races, but he’s still a heck of a player to watch.
Pirates (77-81) – Reds (95-63)
Win: Hanrahan (5-1)
Loss: Broxton (4-4)