Pirates 3, Reds 2

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CINCINNATI (AP)—Rob Mackowiak is making the most of his second chance this season with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Mackowiak came off the bench to hit a two-run homer off Chris Reitsma in the ninth inning, giving the Pirates a 3-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night.

The homer was Mackowiak’s fifth in 18 games since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Aug. 19, when the Pirates were in the middle of a series of trades. He is hitting .356 with 11 RBIs in that span. He was optioned to Nashville on June 8.

“When I went down there, I was able to get some at-bats,” said Mackowiak, who was stuck on the bench with Pittsburgh behind outfielders such as Kenny Lofton and Brian Giles before they were traded. “It was tough up here with those other guys.”

Craig Wilson opened the ninth with a single off Reitsma (9-5). Mackowiak, batting for Jason Bay, then hit a 2-0 pitch deep into the right-field bleachers.

“The life of a closer,” said Reitsma, who’d converted six consecutive save opportunities and seven of his last eight. “I came in and threw a bad pitch. With a one-run lead, there’s no room to spare.”

The blown save was Reitsma’s sixth in 13 opportunities.

The Reds struck out 12 times to set the club record for strikeouts in a season with 1,189. They struck out 1,188 times last year. This is the third consecutive season that they have set the single-season strikeout record. Cincinnati has struck out 10 or more times in 40 of their 145 games.

Mike Lincoln (3-4) allowed one hit in the eighth inning. Julian Tavarez earned his sixth save in nine opportunities.

The Pirates were leading 1-0 in the seventh when Russell Branyan hit a one-out, ground-rule double down the left-field line off Oliver Perez. One out later, Wily Mo Pena was hit by a pitch. Ruben Mateo, who hadn’t started since Aug. 29 due to a sore right hamstring, followed with a double to right-center that bounced over the wall and scored Branyan and Pena.

Perez, who was acquired on Aug. 26 from San Diego as part of the package for Giles, retired the first nine batters he faced—six with strikeouts—before walking Juan Castro to start the fourth. He didn’t allow a hit until Mateo singled sharply into left field with two outs in the fifth.

Perez allowed three hits and one walks in seven innings. He also tied a team high with 10 strikeouts. Perez hasn’t won since beating St. Louis for the Padres on July 22, falling to 0-4 in his last seven games.

“He pitched against us out in San Diego and struck out 11 of us there (in a 9-5 Padres loss),” Reds manager Dave Miley said. “He’s a very nice pickup for Pittsburgh.”

“I felt like I got it going today,” Perez said through an interpreter. “I was moving the ball in and out. Unfortunately, I got the ball up to Mateo.”

Todd Van Poppel, who made his second start of the season and first for the Reds, allowed one run and six hits and didn’t walk a batter. He tied his career high with nine strikeouts, which he’s reached on two previous occasions.

Pittsburgh took a 1-0 lead when Abraham Nunez led off the third inning withhis third homer of the season.

Notes

Pittsburgh’s Jose Hernandez went 0-for-4 to remain hitless in 26 at-bats in September. … Van Poppel became the 15th pitcher to start for the Reds this season, tying the club record set in 1912 and matched in 1945 … Jason Kendall went 3-for-4 to give him 14 multihit games in his last 29. He is hitting .423 (47-for-111) in that span … Nunez has six hits in 11 at-bats after going 1-for-16 over his previous eight games … Pittsburgh improved to 23-24 in one-run decisions … The Reds fell to 27-19 … Lloyd McClendon became the 12th manager to win 200 games with Pittsburgh. He is 200-267 in three seasons … The Pirates improved to 34-40 on the road, matching lastseason’s total of road wins.

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