By Hal McCoy
The Cincinnati Reds avoided Doubleheader Disaster Sunday in PNC Park by scraping out an extra-inning 6-5 victory in 10 innings in the second game over the Pittsburgh Pirates,
They avoided a sweep after losing the first game, 4-2.
Nevertheless, the Reds are seeing red, the red tail lights of the first place Milwaukee Brewers. Milwaukee beat the Chicago White Sox Sunday so the Reds lost a half-game and trail the Brewers by 3 1/2 games.
It was Cincinnati’s 62nd win this season, matching their season’s total from last season when they were 62-100 and they have 42 games remaining to build on it and to catch the Brewers.
It took another comeback, their league-leading 37th to record the second game victory after they blew a two-run lead to lose the opener.
Stuart Fairchild, a late-game replacement, provided the last two RBI. He doubled to tie the game in the eighth and beat out a possible double play in the 10th as what turned out to be the winning run crossed the plate.
When Pittsburgh left fielder Bryan Reynolds hit his second home run of the game in the seventh inning it gave the Pirates a 5-3 lead. Before Sunday, Reynolds had hit 10 career home runs in Great American Ball Park, but none in his home PNC Park.
The Reds tied it in the eighth with two runs. After getting their leadoff batters on base in the sixth and seventh innings without scoring, Joey Votto led the eighth with a double.
He took third on a wild pitch and scored when right fielder Henry Davis dropped the ball while trying to make a sliding catch on Henry Ramos.
It went as a run-scoring single for Ramos, his third hit to go with a walk. Pinch-hitter Stuart Fairchild doubled Ramos home to tie it, 5-5.
Votto was the free runner on second to open the 10th and Tyler Stephenson ran for him. With one out, late-game pinch=runner TJ Hopkins blooped a single to right, sending Stephenson to third.
Fairchild drove one hard to shortstop, a possible inning-ending double play. The Pirates got the out at second, but the speedy Fairchild, sprinting at top speed from his first step, beat the relay throw as Stephenson scored the game-winner.
There were 14 pitchers paraded to the mound, seven on each side. Cincinnati’s seventh was Daniel Duarte. When teams play a doubleheader, they are permitted to add a 27th player to the roster. Duarte was the Reds’ 27th, recalled from Triple-A Louisville.
It was his mission, one he gladly accepted, to guard the 6-5 lead in the bottom of the 10th.
With free runner Andrew McCutchen on second, Duarte struck out Jack Suwinski, retired Davis on a ground ball on which McCutchen took third and ended it by coaxing a fly ball fromm Endy Rodriguez.
The Reds have 13 extra-inning games, most in the National League, and have won eight. And they’ve played 48 one-run games, most in MLB, and they’ve won 25.
Luke Weaver started for the Reds and it was a Luke Weaver type of day. He gave up two runs in the first inning, including Reynolds’ first home run. It was the 23rd home run hit off Weaver, eight in the first inning.
And he gave up his 24th home run in the second, a leadoff rip by Liover Pegues..And when he was nicked for a run on three straight hits in the fourth he was replaced and the steady parade out of the bullpen began.
Weaver’s not-so-pretty line was 3 2/3 innings, four runs, six hits, one walk and seven strikeouts.
The six pitchers who followed him: Sam Moll, Fernando Cruz, Ian Gibaut, Buck Farmer, Alexis Diaz and Duarte. They held the Pirates to one run and three hits over the final 6 1/3 innings. The one run was Reynolds’ second home run.
Diaz pitched 1 2/3 innings in the eighth and ninth. Davis opened the ninth with an infield hit and was the potential walk-off winning run against Buck Farmer. And then he walked Endy Rodriguez to put runners on second and first. After Lioner Peguero failed on two bunt attempts and fouled the third one for strike three, Diaz arrived.
After messing up the bunt, the Pirates committed another faux pas. Catcher Luke Maile picked off Rodriguez at first base for the second out.
Diaz walked Jared Triolo but ended the inning by getting pinch-hitter Ke’Bryan Hayes on a ground ball, preserving the 5-5 tie with the help of Pittsburgh’s two blunders.
The Reds scored two runs in the second on a two-run double by Luke Maile to tie it, 2-2.
They fell behind, 3-2, in the bottom of the second but Elly De La Cruz tied it in the fourth with a boomig 442-foot home run over the Reds’ bullpen in left center, his 10th homer.
Then came Pittsburgh’s 5-3 lead and the Reds late rally.