Chapman escapes tight spot in Reds' 5-4 win

Jeff Wallner, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CINCINNATI -- It wasn't a typical situation for Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, who often blows through the ninth inning with his signature 100-plus mph fastball.
On Saturday afternoon, two defensive miscues put the tying run at third base with nobody out in a one-run game. But Chapman kept his cool, retiring three straight batters, two via strikeout, to end a wild game at Great American Ball Park.
Shortstop Zack Cozart went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI and first baseman Joey Votto drove in two runs, lifting Cincinnati to a 5-4 victory over Pittsburgh in a game that was delayed one hour and 17 minutes by rain.
"They've taken games like this away from us this year," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of the Pirates. "It's nice to be on this side of things."
Andrew McCutchen went 4-for-5 with a home run and Garrett Jones hit his ninth home run for Pittsburgh.
In the fateful ninth, McCutchen hit a routine grounder to Reds third baseman Jack Hannahan, who double-pumped, giving McCutchen just enough time to beat the throw. McCutchen advanced to third on an error by Cozart, one of three errors by the normally sure-handed Reds.
But with the crowd of 34,728 on its feet, Chapman closed the door for his 23rd save.
"We were just trying to minimize damage and trying to induce weak contact," Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco said. "It was cool to see Chapman keep his cool in that situation. That's why he's back there."
Pittsburgh (56-39) was left to lament its missed opportunities, going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and leaving 12 runners on base.
"Just a weird game," said Pirates 2B Jordy Mercer, who struck out for the final out.
Reds starter Mat Latos (9-3) labored after the rain delay but picked up the victory, allowing three runs (two earned) in five innings. He gave up four hits, walked four and struck out five.
"I had to refocus mentally (after the rain delay)," Latos said. "I made some mistakes that cost me. I had to grind it out. The bullpen and the offense really picked me up. That's the way baseball goes sometimes."
The Pirates had taken the field for the bottom of the first when the wind kicked up dirt and debris, causing fans to scatter as the grounds crew struggled to the secure the tarp.
"It was ugly out there," Baker said. "It went from sprinkles to tornado-like."
The rain delay wasn't kind to either starting pitcher.
Pittsburgh starter A.J. Burnett (4-7) warmed up again after the delay, but Shin-Soo Choo greeted him with a double and scored Cincinnati's first run when Jones misplayed Votto's ground ball.
Cincinnati (55-42) increased its lead to 4-0 on an RBI single by Brandon Phillips, a sacrifice fly by Cozart and an RBI double by Mesoraco.
In the second, Jones hit a homer off Latos to make the score 4-1. The Pirates' second run scored when Cozart threw past Phillips at second base for an error on what would have been an inning-ending force play.
Burnett retired six of seven batters, including five via strikeout, in one stretch.
McCutchen cut the Pirates' deficit to 4-3 with his 12th home run of the season, a solo shot in the fourth.
Burnett walked Votto with the bases loaded in the seventh, making the score 5-3.
Burnett finished with five runs allowed, but just two earned, in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up 10 hits, walked two and struck out eight.
An unfortunate misstep by McCutchen cost the Pirates a scoring opportunity in the seventh, and epitomized the afternoon for Pittsburgh.
McCutchen hit a line drive that rolled to the wall in right center, but while attempting to stretch for a triple, he stumbled and fell between second and third and was retired in a rundown for the second out.
""I don't think there was even going to be a throw to third," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "That's another one of those things that make you go 'huh?' during today's game."
NOTES: Cincinnati evened its season series with Pittsburgh at 6-6. .. Choo's double in the first inning extended his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games. ... Votto collected his 500th RBI in the first inning. .. Of McCutchen's 12 home runs this season, 11 have come with the bases empty. ... Pirates 2B Neil Walker made his second rehab start for Triple-A Indianapolis and went 1-for-3 with a walk in seven innings. He'll be reevaluated on Sunday before playing a full nine innings for the Indians. Walker could be reinstated from the disabled list on Monday. ... Pirates LHP Jeff Locke will have no pitch-count limitation when he starts Sunday in Cincinnati. He was scratched from his last start and did not pitch in the All-Star Game because of a sore back.

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