Tonight’s rubber match between the Pirates and Reds featured a pitching matchup of A.J. Burnett and Johnny Cueto, and it was another low scoring game. Burnett got off to a shaky start in the first, giving up a book-rule double to leadoff man Zack Cozart. Pedro Alvarez muffed the play on Drew Stubbs‘ bunt, putting runners on the corners. Jay Bruce lined out to first base, and then Brandon Phillips drove in run on a sac-fly. Burnett did a heck of a job to strike out the next batter, limiting the damage to just one run. Jordy Mercer picked up his first career hit with a single in the first.
The first scoring chance the Bucs had came in the second. Garrett Jones tripled, and after Matt Hague grounded out, Rod Barajas was intentionally walked to get to Burnett. He worked the count full, fouling off pitch after pitch. He finally drew a walk, loading the bases for Jose Tabata. He swung at the first pitch, hitting a dribbler to second for the third out.
Burnett and Cueto both pitched well in the middle innings, and A.J. had retired 15 straight Reds at one point. The Pirates finally cashed in on a chance to score in the sixth on a string of great 2-out at-bats. Neil Walker drew a walk, and Jones worked the count full. Walker was off on the pitch, and Jones singled through the hole into right to put runners on the corners. Hague doubled to right-center, driving in two and increasing his hit-streak to 6 games.
The bullpen took over with the 2-1 lead after Burnett went 7 innings and gave up just two hits, and Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan both pitched scoreless innings to close out the game and increase the Pirates record to 14-9 in one-run games.
Win: Burnett (4-2)
Loss: Cueto (5-3)
Save: Hanrahan (13)