By HAL McCOY
That isn’t a monkey perched on the shoulders of the Cincinnati Reds. It isn’t a gorilla, either. It’s King Kong on one shoulder and Mighty Joe Young on the other.
The Reds shed their stinking streak of 30 straight scoreless innings and scored five runs Saturday afternoon in PNC Park against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
But it was one run short. And the losing streak mounts, a seventh straight defeat, 6-5, in 10 innings.
And it was a shattering conclusion against relief pitcher Raisel Iglesias. Pitching into a third inning for the first time since April 25, 2016, Iglesias retired the first two in the bottom of the tenth.
But pinch-hitter Francisco Cervelli singled and on the next pitch Kevin Newman shot a double to deep left center and Cervelli scored from the first for the walk-off victory.
Pittsburgh took a 1-0 lead in the first inning off Reds starter Tanner Roark on a run-scoring double by Josh Bell.
The Reds’ scoreless futility ended in the third inning when Kyle Farmer, playing third base in his first start of the season, unloaded a two-run home run, his first career home run. The 2-1 lead was Cincinnati’s first lead in 57 innings.
The Pirates scored a run off Reds starter Tanner Roark in the bottom of the third and the Reds retrieved that run in the fourth on a double by Curt Casali, the starting catcher on this day, to make it 4-2.
Josh Bell, who had two doubles and a home run, clubbed his home run off Roark in the fifth, cutting the Reds’ advantage to 4-3.
Roark left after five innings and 93 pitches, giving up three runs, seven hits, two walks and striking out four.
The sixth inning was a bullpen disaster for the Reds. Jared Hughes began the inning and gave up a leadoff single to Jacob Stallings.
After Stallings was bunted to second, left hander Zach Duke was brought in to face left handed pinch-hitter Adam Frazier. And he walked him.
Question? Why take out Hughes, who is effective against both right handers and left handers? And it certainly didn’t work.
Manager David Bell brought in Michael Lorenzen after Duke issued the walk and the struggling Lorenzen gave up a single to pinch-hitter Jung Ho Kang and a two-run double to Starling Marte for a 5-4 Pittsburgh lead.
There was hope, though. So far this season the Pirates’ bullpen has blown three games in which the Pirates led after six innings.
And it looked promising in the eighth when Joey Votto led the inning against relief pitcher Keone Kela with his first home run since last mid-September, tying the game, 5-5.
But after Votto’s home run, nine straight Reds made outs the next three innings, setting it up for the Pirates to pull it out in the first extra-inning game for the Reds, who are now 1-and-7 and reeling.