By HAL McCOY
Major League Baseball, realizing the Cincinnati Reds-Pittsburgh Pirates history of beanball warfare, issued both teams a pre-game proclamation.
No funny business. Or else.
So there were no histrionics or extra-curricular activities Friday night in PNC Park. It was just good, old-fashioned baseballs, a rare pitcher’s duel.
In the end though, Reds closer Raisel Iglesias spit up what appeared to be a sure-fire win. Asked to protect a one-run lead in the ninth, he gave up three hits, including a walk-off single by pinch-hitter Pablo Reyes for a 3-2 Pirates victory.
Aristides Aquino homered, then singled home a go-ahead run in the eighth inning to give the Reds a 2-1 lead. Then Raisel Iglesias happened.
The Pirates, 8-and-30 since the All-Star break when they were only 2 1/2 games out of first place, have not only fought the Reds. They’ve had some inner turmoil, some clubhouse shoving matches between some relief pitchers and the coaching staff. But the Pirates played the Reds in this one as if they were still 2 1/2 games out of first place instead of 17 behind and in last place.
Reds manager David Bell tempted the fates by inserting Derek Dietrich into his lineup, Dietrich’s first game back off the injured list.
It was Dietrich who ignited this season’s animosity between the two teams when he overly admired a home run early this season. Pitcher Chris Archer later threw at Dietrich, sparking the season-long mischief.
Pittsburgh’s Mitch Keller, he of the 8.86 earned run average, and Cincinnati’s Anthony DeSclafani were in total control while in the game.
It was 1-1 when both left the game.
The Reds scored a run in the second, a leadoff home run by, who else, Aristides “The Punisher” Aquino, his 12th in 22 games. That, too, is a major league record for most home runs to start a career in fewest games.
The Pirates tied it in the sixth with one measly infield hit. DeSclafani walked Brian Reynolds to open the inning and Starling Marte dribbled a hit just to the left of the pitcher’s mound.
Both runners moved up on Josh Bell’s deep fly to the center field warning track and Reynolds score on Colin Moran’s grounder to first to tie it, 1-1.
The Reds put two runners on base with no outs in the seventh and didn’t score. Tucker Barnhart doubled and took third on Jose Iglesias’ single.
That was the end of Keller’s night. Relief pitcher Michael Feliz came to the mound and struck out the side — Derek Dietrich, Nick Senzel and pinch-hitter Brian O’Grady.
So DeSclafani left with a line of six innings, one run, five hits, two walks, four strikeouts. Keller’s line was six innings, one run, six hits, one walk, nine strikeouts.
Keone Kela came on to pitch the eighth. Kela was the pitcher who threw a ball over Dietrich’s head the last time the teams met, igniting a fight during which Cincinnati pitcher Amir Garrett charged the Pirates dugout.
Kela received a 10-game suspension and Garrett was set down for eight. And Kela was one of the pitchers involved in a tussle with a coach in the Pirates clubhouse.
And the Reds extracted their pound of flesh.
Freddy Galvis pulled a one-out double to left. But Eugenio Suarez, who dropped a pop-up in the seventh inning, struck out for the fourth time. It was his second four-whiff game in a week.
Kela had Aquino 0-and-2, went to 3-and-2, and Aquino ripped a two-out hanging curve into left field, a run-scoring single. It was Aquino’s third hit and he drove in both runs.
Amir Garrett, the other major player in the brawl, entered the game in the eighth. The Pirates didn’t even extra an ounce of flesh from Garrett. He retired the meat of the order 1-2-3 on 10 pitches, striking out Josh Bell to end the inning.
It was left up to closer Raisel Iglesias to clean it up and he was not as clean as Windex. Colin Moran led the ninth with a single to left on a 0-and-2 pitch.
Jose Osuna swatted the first pitch to left field for a single to put runners on second and first with no outs. Iglesias had two strikes on Adam Frazier and he blooped a run-scoring single to center to tie it, 2-2.
Jacob Stallings laid down a perfect bunt, moving the winning run to third base with one out. Pablo Reyes drilled one over left fielder Phillip Ervin’s head for a walk-off single. . .and that was that.
So the Reds, striking out 14 times and missing several scoring opportunities, lost the first game of an 11-game road trip.