Pirates 6, Reds 5
PITTSBURGH (AP)— The Pittsburgh Pirates’ hitters picked up the pitchers this time.
Pinch-hitter Rob Mackowiak drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI double in the fifth, helping the Pirates come from behind and complete a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds with a 6-5 victory Sunday.
“We keep battling every day,” Mackowiak said. “Our pitchers have been carrying us for a while and maybe today the offense returned the favor. You have to help them when maybe they don’t have their best stuff.”
Tike Redman hit a three-run homer for the Pirates, who rallied from a 5-1 deficit to win for the eighth time in their last 10 games. Pittsburgh has also won 14 of its last 15 at home. The Pirates came back from a 4-1 deficit to win 14-4 Saturday.
“This was a special weekend for us in a lot of different ways,” manager Lloyd McClendon said.
The Pirates are on a 21-8 streak after losing 21 of 25 in June and seem to be moving toward respectability. After a franchise-record 11 consecutive losing seasons, the Pirates are within two games of .500 at 47-49.
Sean Burnett (5-2) won his fifth straight start despite struggling through 5 1-3 innings. He allowed five runs and seven hits after allowing just three earned runs in his previous 28 innings.
What was the difference?
“We took the `S’ off his chest,” McClendon said. “We found out he’s not Superman. He’s young. He’s still learning himself and what his strengths are. He’s very intelligent and I’m sure he learned today.”
Jose Mesa, the fifth Pirates pitcher, worked the ninth for his 29th save in 30 opportunities.
“We can’t keep giving up leads day in and day out,” Reds catcher Jason LaRue said. “We have to keep getting more runs. Just because we’re up four or five runs, it’s not over. The game is nine innings.
The Pirates trailed 5-1 when they scored four times in the fourth to tie it against Brandon Claussen.
Craig Wilson doubled, Tony Alvarez singled and Redman hit a 1-0 pitch into the right-field stands for his sixth homer. Chris Stynes and Jose Castillo each singled and moved up on Burnett’s bunt. Van Poppel came in and immediately threw a wild pitch that let Stynes score the tying run.
Claussen gave up five runs—four earned—and seven hits in 3 1-3 innings.
“I didn’t think he pitched bad,” Reds manager Dave Miley said. “It was like last night. Some balls found holes and then Redman got the home run.”
Burnett, who hadn’t allowed a homer in his 40 major league innings, gave up two in as many innings. Casey hit a three-run homer, his 16th, to break a 1-1 tie in the third. It followed Claussen’s single and a walk to Ryan Freel.
Pena hit a solo homer in the fourth, his 15th.
Freel led off the game with a single, stole second and scored on Casey’s single.
The Pirates got an unearned run in the first. Bay hit a two-out double, moved to third on shortstop Juan Castro’s throwing error and scored on Alvarez’s single to left.
Reds center fielder Jason Romano strained his right hamstring fielding a ball in the first and left the game. He’s scheduled for an MRI when the Reds return to Cincinnati. It’s expected he’ll have to be placed on the disabled list… Pena has eight home runs in his last 14 games. … LaRue singled to stretch his hitting streak to 11 games. … Reds shortstop Barry Larkin was out of the lineup because of a strained oblique muscle he sustained during Saturday’s game. He’s day-to-day. … The Pirates have 12 consecutive wins against NL Central opponents. … The three weekend games drew 100,417, the Pirates’ biggest three-game series since 100,964 watched a series with the Cleveland Indians on June 20-22, 2003… The Pirates had 37 hits in the three games.