By Hal McCoy
The game was as bizarre as a book entitled, ‘Body Builders in Tutus,’ by Phillipp Lomboy.
That’s a real book and what happened Sunday afternoon in PNC Park was as real as a Primanti Brothers sandwich in Pittsburgh.
It was a manual called, “Bad Baseball, Both Teams’ when the Cincinnati Reds played the Pittsburgh Pirates.
THE REDS WERE one out, one pitch, away from winning the game in regulation time, owning a one-run lead with nobody on and two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
But Reds relief pitcher Ross Ohlendorf gave up a home run into the right field seats by John Jason to tie it.
Finally, though, the Reds scored a run on Scott Schebler’s double in the 11th inning and the Reds held on for a 6-5 victory.
Thus ended a six-game losing streak for the Reds and a six-game winning streak for the Pirates. The Reds, 1-and-5 on the now-concluded trip are 2-and-10 on the road this season.
THE SCRIPT FOR most of the afternoon was the same old story, played over and over and over by the Reds so far this year.
An emergency starter, 28-year-old Tim Adleman, made his major league debut and it was masterful.
Scheduled starter Raisel Iglesias was placed on the disabled list with a shoulder impingement and Adleman, signed out of an independent league, was summoned from Class AAA Louisville to make his first major league start.
And what a start it was — six-plus innings, two runs, three hits, two walks and six strikeouts.
The only run off Adleman while he was on the mound came in the fifth inning. TV broadcaster Jim Day was interviewing Adleman’s parents in the stands when Gregory Polanco launched a home run over the right field stands, a ball that bounced into the Allegheny River, only the 37th ball to land there in PNC Park.
But the Reds had a 3-1 lead when Starling Marte led the seventh with an infield single. Even though Adleman had only 92 pitches, manager Bryan Price decided to remove him.
THAT PUT THE GAME in the precarious hands of the bullpen and what always happens happened again. The bullpen blew up.
Tony Cingrani replaced Adleman and gave up a triple off the left field wall to make it 3-2.
Caleb Cotham replaced Cingrani and gave up a single to left field by Starling Marte to tie it, 3-3.
AND THEN CAME some of the bizarre happenstances. The Reds took a 4-3 lead in the eighth, without a hit. The Pirates, who made four errors, made two in the eighth that led to a run.
Zack Cozart lined one to right that Polanco misplayed for an error that landed Cozart on second base. And Cozart left the game because he tweaked the knee that was surgically repaired last season.
With one out and pinch-runner Tyler Holt on third, the Pirates intentionally walked Joey Votto, putting runners on first and third.
WITH EUGENIO SUAREZ batting, Votto broke for second. When catcher Chris Stewart threw to second, Votto stopped and Holt broke for home. The throw beat Holt by plenty, but he bumped Stewart’s glove and the ball dislodged.
Safe? Not yet. Holt missed home and ran about 20 feet beyond home, but he sprinted back to the plate to score and give the Reds a 4-3 lead on Stewart’s error.
The lead lasted only until the Pirates batted in the bottom of the eighth against Cotham. Andrew McCuthen led with a single and took second on a hit-and-run ground ball by Josh Harrison. Starling Marte singled and it was tied again, 4-4.
IMMEDIATELY THE REDS took a 5-4 lead in the top of the ninth on a single by Adam Duvall and a double by Schebler, who entered the game the previous inning on a double switch.
Ross Ohlendorf easily retired the first two Pirates in the bottom of the ninth — one out, one pitch away from victory. Jaso homered and it was 5-5.
Then came the 11th and more Pirates misplays. Suarez led the inning with a liner to left. Marte tried to make a shoestring catch and the ball skidded past him for a triple. With one out, Schebler delivered his second straight go-ahead double to make it 6-5.
This time it held. Blake Wood pitched a 1-2-3 11th inning for the win, his third to make him 3-0. Ohlendorf also has three wins giving those two bullpenners six of the Reds 10 wins.
THE GAME MIGHT not have gone 11 innings except for some Reds blunders on the basepaths.
The sixth: Tucker Banhart doubled to lead the inning and Coaart walked with one out after Adleman fouled three straight bunt attempts. Billy Hamilton, batting second in the order for the first time in his career, blooped one to short left field that fell in front of Marte.
But Barnhart slipped between second and third and Marte forced him out at third. Fortunately for the Reds, Brandon Phillips was walked intentionally to fill bases and Jay Bruce delivered with a line drive down the right field line.
Even then there was bad baserunning. Two runs scored on Bruce’s hit, but Phillips tried to score from first and was thrown out at home. But the Reds led, 3-1.
The 11th: After Schebler’s go-ahead double, Ivan DeJesus Jr. lined to right for an out and Schebler was caught off first base in a rundown that ended with Barnhart thrown out at home.
But all’s well that ends well.