Pirates 14, Reds 4
PITTSBURGH (AP)—The Pittsburgh Pirates picked the perfect way to honor their 1979 World Series championship team: For one night, they played exactly like them.
Just like their ’79 champions, the Pirates had timely hitting, an excellent bullpen and, of course, the prerequisite comeback.
Jason Bay had two hits in the inning and Craig Wilson added a two-run single to help the Pirates overcome Cincinnati leads of 3-0 and 4-1 and win their 19th in 25 games. They have won 13 of 14 at home to move above .500 at PNC Park (24-23) for the first time since their opening series.
“This team came together a long time ago … maybe before a lot of you guys noticed,” manager Lloyd McClendon said of a club that remains last place in the NL Central but has been one of baseball’s hottest for a month. “It’s nice we’re starting to play like we can.”
Barry Larkin homered among his three hits, moving him past Dave Concepcion into second place in Reds history with 2,327 hits, but Cincinnati still lost its fourth in a row on a five-game, two-city road trip that winds up Sunday. Cincinnati has lost 18 of 24 on the road, prompting a 10-minute postgame meeting that manager Dave Miley declined to discuss.
“We’ve struggled the past few days but nobody’s panicking,” the Reds’ Sean Casey said. “We’re going to bounce back and get right back to where we need to be.”
Larkin strained an abdominal muscle while reaching for a ball early in the game and is listed as day to day. He had an abdominal strain earlier this season.
Reds starter Aaron Harang (6-3) was 2-0 this season and 3-0 in his career against the Pirates, but he squandered the two leads by failing to retire any of the seven batters he faced in the turnaround sixth inning. Until that inning, Harang had allowed five earned runs in 30 innings—a 1.50 ERA—since sitting out three weeks with a sprained right elbow ligament.
The first seven Pirates batters reached base in the sixth, with Bay starting it with a double to left ahead of Tike Redman’s single and Randall Simon’s RBI single. First baseman Casey’s throw to third was late on Jose Castillo’s sacrifice, loading the bases, and pinch-hitter Bobby Hill’s RBI single tied it at 4.
That brought on John Riedling, the second of four Reds pitchers in the inning, and Kendall greeted him with his two-run double. Wilson later added his two-run single off Ryan Wagner and Bay also singled in a run. Bay had three hits, including a two-run single in the seventh.
The ’79 team was known for its comebacks—those Pirates were in last place in May before rallying to win the franchise’s fifth and last World Series title.
“I don’t remember much about them because I was only 2,” Craig Wilson said. “They were the Lumber and Lightning team, right? … I’m just glad we were able to win.”
McClendon enjoyed visiting with players such as Dave Parker and Bill Madlock, saying, “It was great to say hello and slap some hands. … Our guys wanted to perform well in front of them.”
Rookie left-hander John Grabow (1-4), the third of the Pirates’ six pitchers, pitched a scoreless sixth inning for his first victory in 46 major league games. The five relievers held Cincinnati to a run over the final seven innings, with Ryan Vogelsong working out of bases-loaded, none-out jam with two runs already in and the Reds up 3-0 in the third.
“That might have been the key to the game,” McClendon said.
The 40-year-old Larkin was largely responsible for Cincinnati’s early leads with a solo homer in the first off Josh Fogg, a double during a two-run third and a walk in the fourth, scoring each time. The two-run third was helped by two Pirates errors.
Fogg lasted only two-plus innings in one of Pittsburgh’s rare poor starts during the last month, giving up three runs and five hits. Pirates starters are 14-3 over the last 29 games, lasting at least six innings all but four times.
The Pirates’ biggest inning this season was a nine-run second against Montreal on July 9. … Pittsburgh has won its last 11 against the NL Central. … The sellout crowd of 37,752 was the Pirates’ second in as many nights and their fourth of the season. … Pittsburgh has won four of its last five series at home and split the other. … Larkin trails Reds career hits leader Pete Rose by 1,031 hits.