Pirates 3, Reds 1
CINCINNATI (AP)—Barry Larkin heard the ovation and got the message: His hometown isn’t ready to let him go.
How Reds ownership feels is still a mystery.
Larkin got a pinch-hit single and another numbing ovation Saturday, the emotional highlight of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 3-1 victory over Cincinnati.
The crowd of 26,128 rose to its feet when the 40-year-old shortstop came to the plate in the eighth. While a chant of “Barry! Barry!” rang through the ballpark, he singled through the hole at shortstop, then raised his arm to salute the crowd as he left for a pinch-runner.
Just like in the series opener, when he homered in his final at-bat, Larkin was overwhelmed by the reception.
“It’s just that it’s so unbelievable,” he said. “You’re humbled by it. You’re almost like numb.
“I think it’s a form of communication. They’re saying, ‘We’re not ready for him not to be here.”’
Larkin has spent all of his 19 seasons with his hometown team, which has declined to discuss a contract extension so far. The 12-time All-Star wants to play one more season, but might have to do it elsewhere.
Larkin will get one more chance to leave a lasting impression. Manager Dave Miley plans to start him on Sunday, when Larkin can be sure of a few more touching moments.
“You don’t want to get emotional out there, because it’s tough enough to swing,” he said.
While Larkin kept his composure, the Pirates took advantage of a pitching staff that has crumbled like no other in Reds’ history. Jason Kendall had three hits and Jose Castillo homered off a staff setting all sorts of records.
Castillo’s two-run homer in the second off Todd Van Poppel (4-6) was the 235th off the Reds, the most allowed by any pitching staff in the majors this season.
It’s a club record for homers allowed and four shy of the NL record, set by the 2001 Rockies. The major league record is 241 homers given up by the 1996 Tigers.
The Reds also have given up 905 runs, setting a club record for the second year in a row. Horrible pitching has been the main culprit in the Reds’ fourth straight losing season, their longest such streak since the 1950s.
“I’m never happy to see baseball end, but it’s been a long year,” Miley said.
The Pirates are wrapping up another disappointing season with a swoon—only three wins in their last 11 games. They must win the final game on Sunday to avoid their fourth 90-loss season in the last seven years.
One of their few consistent pitchers saved them from the mark for at least one more day.
Right-hander Josh Fogg (11-10) allowed three hits in six innings, including a triple and a homer by Darren Bragg. Fogg and left-hander Oliver Perez, who will start on Sunday, are tied for the club lead in wins.
“It was a goal of mine to get to .500 and try to get above it,” said Fogg, who opened the season 0-4. “I knew I was good enough to do it. I never doubted myself, even when I struggled early on.”
Jose Mesa pitched the ninth for his ninth consecutive save, leaving him 42-for-47 overall.
Van Poppel gave up three runs in five innings, completing his season split between the bullpen and rotation. The right-hander was 2-3 in 11 starts with a 5.31 ERA.
Castillo hit the next pitch into the seats in center for his seventh homer.
Adam Dunn struck out in the fourth and seventh innings, pushing his major league record to 194 this season.
Pirates SS Jack Wilson was out of the lineup. He fouled a pitch off his left calf in his last at-bat Friday night. Wilson got his 200th hit of the season in the series opener. … Pittsburgh is close to setting a club record for fewest errors in a season. The Pirates have 103 errors; the 1993 team made only 105, the current low. … Fogg gave up only 17 homers, two years after he led the staff with 28.