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Bullpen leads Pirates to 11-inning win

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- Even though the Pittsburgh Pirates' record is 35-22, history suggests that the team's hot start might be just an illusion. However, you will get an argument in the Pirates' clubhouse.

"You don't win a game like this if you're not for real and you're not made up of something special," Pirates closer Jason Grilli said.

Travis Snider singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning as the Pirates came back from an early four-run deficit to beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 Sunday at PNC Park.

The Pirates, who have had 20 consecutive losing seasons, maintained their streak of not being swept in a series this season, and they also averted their first three-game losing streak.

It was a game the Pirates could have easily lost. They fell behind 4-0 in the first inning and were forced to call on the bullpen in the second inning as starter Jeanmar Gomez exited due to right forearm stiffness.

Yet Pittsburgh found a way to win it.

Russell Martin scored the winning run after reaching on a one-out throwing error by Reds shortstop Zack Cozart. Pedro Alvarez then walked and, one out later, Snider chopped a single into right-center off Alfredo Simon (4-2).

"In that at-bat, if you put the pressure of the situation on you, as I'm starting to learn from more experience, you just have to take it one pitch at a time," Snider said. "You have to have an approach, and the more you try to do, the fewer results you're going to get, so I just tried to put together a good (at-bat)."

The Pirates tied the game in the eighth at 4-4 on a monstrous two-run home run by Garrett Jones off Jonathan Broxton.

The blast traveled 463 feet over the right field stands and went into the Allegheny River on the fly. While 31 home runs have reached the water since PNC Park opened in 2001, Jones' was just the second to make it on the fly. Houston's Daryle Ward hit the other one on July 6, 2002, off Kip Wells.

Jones' homer came with two outs after Andrew McCutchen extended the inning with a single. McCutchen and Snider each had two of the Pirates' seven hits.

Jones had not homered since May 10. He struck out with runners on second and third in the sixth inning with the Pirates down by two runs.

"It was a swing of anger," Jones said of his eighth-inning cut. "I haven't been getting many big hits lately, and I put everything I had into that swing. It felt pretty good. I wasn't expecting to hit the ball in the river, which was pretty cool, but it was great to come through and give us a chance to win."

Gomez was tagged for four runs and four hits while walking one and hitting a batter in his lone inning.

However, five Pittsburgh relievers combined for 10 scoreless innings, including three each by Vin Mazzaro and Bryan Morris. Rookie left-hander Justin Wilson (5-0) pitched the final two innings for the win.

"The bullpen reset the bar, and they pushed it to where it's probably never been," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "To come in in the bottom of the first inning, four down and know your starter's out, the resolve the club showed, particularly the bullpen, throughout the day ... They came off the field, and I tipped my hat to them."

The Reds jumped on Gomez quickly. Leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo was hit by a pitch and scored on Cozart's triple.

Following a walk to Joey Votto, Jay Bruce singled home a run, and Todd Frazier singled to load the bases. Xavier Paul followed with an RBI single, and Devin Mesoraco capped the four-run inning with a sacrifice fly.

"The one thing you always want to do is get into the bullpen early, and we did, yet we didn't take advantage of it," Cozart said. "You've got to add on runs. You can't give the other team any chance of starting a comeback. We let them hang around, and they beat us."

Alvarez hit his 11th home run, a two-out solo shot in the second inning, off Cincinnati starter Mat Latos. In the sixth, McCutchen hit an RBI single to draw the Pirates within 4-2.

Latos allowed just two runs and three hits in six innings, but he didn't get the chance to raise his record to 6-0 as he was victimized for the fourth time this season by a blow save.

Reds manager Dusty Baker was disappointed Latos had to be pulled after throwing just 94 pitches.

"He threw the ball well, but he hit that wall again," Baker said. "He's got to get over that wall and get past the 90- to 100-pitch mark. He's bigger and stronger than that. That's quite a few victories that got away from him."

NOTES: Cincinnati 2B Brandon Phillips (bruised left forearm) did not play after being injured Saturday night when hit by a pitch. He is likely to miss the three-game series with Colorado that begins Monday night. INF Cesar Izturis went 0-for-5 as Phillips' replacement. ... Plate umpire Bob Davidson warned both teams after Latos hit Pirates 2B Neil Walker with a pitch in the bottom of the first inning. Gomez hit Choo in the top of the first. ... Pittsburgh OF Alex Presley started for a second straight day, this time subbing for Snider in right field. He went 1-for-5 after having three hits Saturday. ... Reds RHP Bronson Arroyo (5-5, 3.75) will pitch Monday night against Rockies RHP Tyler Chatwood (3-0, 2.12). Arroyo is 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA in his last four starts. ... Pirates RHP A.J. Burnett (3-5, 2.72) faces Braves RHP Kris Medlen (1-6, 3.48) on Monday night in the first game of a three-game series at Atlanta. Burnett has lost his last three decisions and hasn't won since May 3.
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