Jay Bruce led off the second with a liner to center for a single. Chris Heisey cleaned that up when his grounder to Pedro started an around-the-horn DP. He left a pitch up to Miguel Cairo, but his shot to center was hauled in by Cutch.
Rod Barajas fouled off pitch after pitch against Arroyo, and the ninth one was a curve that hung a bit, and Hot Rod spanked it into left for a leadoff knock. Clint Barmes didn't show the same patience, popping out on the first pitch. McDonald hurt his own cause when he bunted into a forceout at second. It worked out the same when JT walked. The Kid followed by drilling a changeup at the knees into right for a double, scoring J-Mick. Cutch poked at a two-strike slider and popped out, but thanks to the two-out thunder, the Pirates were up 3-0. And Arroyo is at 50 pitches after two.
The Reds made some noise in the third when Ryan Hanigan doubled to left on a ball that the less-than-100% JT couldn't quite get to. That was followed by a four pitch walk to Arroyo. But a bunt that went astray - J-Mick got the force at third - a K and a Votto fly out ended the frame without any damage. Pedro started the Bucs off by rifling a juicy changeup to right for a double. Two fly outs later, the Bucco two-away mojo struck again as Barajas lined a slider to right to score Alvarez and make it 4-0.
J-Mick threw a clean fourth, and has been efficient at only 49 pitches. JT rolled a one-out single to center. Walker and Cutch both took balls to the track, and the noisy outs ended the two-out run-scoring streak.
Cairo opened the fifth with a ground knock into left. Hanigan bounced a ball up the middle to put Reds on first and second. Mike Costanzo batted for Arroyo and popped out on a 3-2 pitch on a fastball that may have been the only strike thrown to him. Drew Stubbs went down on strikes. Wilson Valdez bounced out, and J-Mick continues to dance through the raindrops. Alfredo Simon took the bump for Cincy.
He worked Alvarez hard with heat, and Pedro became the third Bucco in a row to have one caught at the track when he bombed a fastball to straight center, taken off the wall by Stubbs. It may have been trapped, but the play was not reviewable, so nice catch. Hague doubled with two away off Stubb's mitt. Barajas fell behind early, but worked a walk. But the two-out magic was gone; Barmes bounced out.
McDonald got through Votto, Brandon Phillips and Bruce quietly in the sixth. Simon sez worked for Cincy, too - the Bucs went down 1-2-3. Down in order went the Reds in the seventh; the Bucs got a single from Cutch, but Pedro bopped into a 4-6-3 DP, so it was still 4-0 going into the eighth.
And it was three up, three down for J-Mick again, aided by a nice grab in left by Gorkys Hernandez, who was just subbed in this inning, ringing up twelve Reds in a row. McDonald is at 103 pitches; the question is whether Clint Hurdle will let him go for the complete game shutout and win.
JJ Hoover climbed the hill for the Reds, and put the Bucs away neatly. And that was it for McDonald, who went eight innings, giving up five hits and walk with five whiffs. We expected to see newcomer Doug Slaten, but Tony Watson came on to finish up.
After eight pitches, he lost Votto on a borderline call, and he took second on defensive indifference. He got Phillips and Bruce, but on a 1-2 pitch to Heisey, Watson left a sinker up and he dropped it into left to ruin the shutout. That brought Hanny in; it's a save situation now. Hanrahan got Cairo on two pitches, so at least he didn't burn him up today and got him a gimme twelfth save.
Hey, great pitching, early clutch hitting and overall a nice way to get back to .500, even if Hurdle couldn't resist overmanaging at the end. The Bucs are three back and have their first four game winning streak of the year, so everything's good going into tomorrow night when Homer Bailey faces Charlie Morton.
- The Pirates have to be disappointed with today's holiday crowd. With the Reds in town and J-Mick on the hill, they drew only 14,792.
- RHP Brian Bass, who pitched a bit for Pittsburgh in 2010, was signed by Houston to a minor league contract. The Bucs were his last MLB stop; he had been pitching in Korea before the 'Stros called.
- RHP Ryota Igarashi, who the Bucs sold to Toronto in the spring, lasted two outings and one inning for the Jays before being sent back down after a recent call-up.
- Jim Callis of Baseball America thinks the Bucs will draft a position player. He leans toward Arizona State SS Deven Marrero, but also adds prep OF Albert Almora and Florida C Mike Zunino as possibilities.