The Reds lost to the Tigers this afternoon, leaving a huge opportunity for the Pirates to jump within one game of the division lead.
They took advantage of it.
James McDonald found himself in a sticky situation quickly in the first inning. He walked Alex Gordon to start the game, then allowed Billy Butler to single. After Mike Moustakas flied out, Butler and Gordon advanced on a double steal. McDonald was able to get out of the jam when Jeff Francoeur popped out to short on a 2-1 count.
In the third inning, James McDonald allowed the first runs of the game, walking Alex Gordon for the second time in two plate appearances, then allowing a home run to Yuniesky Bentancourt, his third of the season.
The Pirates’ first real opportunity came in the bottom of the third inning. After James McDonald struck out, Alex Presley singled to left field, then stole second base. Neil Walker then drew a walk off of Vin Mazzaro. Presley stole third base, his second of the inning, and Walker successfully stole second to complete the double steal. However, Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones both grounded out, not allowing the runs to score.
McDonald found himself in more trouble in the fourth inning after allowing a leadoff walk to right fielder Eric Hosmer. After Brayan Pena flied out to center field, allowing Hosmer to advance to third base, and Alcides Escobar grounded out 1-3, then Mazzaro, the pitcher, singled Hosmer in with a liner to right field.
The bottom of the fouth inning was perhaps the most bizarre inning for the Pirates this season. Pedro Alvarez walked, then moved over to second on a single by Jose Tabata. Rod Barajas loaded the bases with a single to right. Clint Barmes hit a scorching grounder to the left of the third baseman, then the ball bounces off the glove of shortstop Alcides Escobar. Matt Hague was brought in to pinch hit for McDonald, then singled on a can of corn to right, driving in Tabata. Alex Presley hit a ball right at third baseman Moustakas, but somehow reached base while Rod Barajas was barging home. Neil Walker became the first out of the inning when he grounded out to first, but still drove in Clint Barmes. Andrew McCuthen re-loaded the basepaths when he drew a six-pitch walk. Garrett Jones hit into a fielder’s choice, with McCutchen being thrown out at second, but was still able to drive in Matt Hague, driving the Pirates’ run total up to five.
Chris Resop was in trouble in the sixth inning, allowing the first two batters to reach base on his own error and a scorching grounder to left field before being replaced by lefty Doug Slaten, who retired two batters before relinquishing control to Jared Hughes, who went the next two and one third innings.
Joel Hanrahan was able to get the save without any drama, retiring Gordon, Bentancourt, and Billy Butler in order, all groundouts.