The Pirates drew first blood in the opening frame. Starling Marte started the contest with a line knock, his sixth straight game-starting hit. He stole second, followed by a Neil Walker free pass. A fly to right moved him to third, but he was cut down trying to score on a Garrett Jones grounder. No diff; Russell Martin rolled one through the left side to give the Bucs a 1-0 lead.
Brandon Phillips knotted the count quickly, leading off the second with a homer to straightaway center on a heater down the middle. Burnett was laboring at this point, adding a couple of walks to run his pitch count to 40. But the Buc bats gave him a pad as they roared back.
Travis Snider started it off by banging a ball up the middle; Zack Cozart made a diving stop but couldn't get a good throw away. A passed ball moved him to second and he went to third on Clint Barmes knock. AJ's bunt moved Barmes to second, and the bases were juiced after Marte was plunked in the hip.
Walker lined a single to center, scoring a pair. Buccos ended up on second and third when Choo tried to gun Marte at third as The Kid took second on the misjudgment. It cost the Reds an extra run when Cutch dropped a single to left to score the pair. Jones followed with another knock, but the baseball gods smiled on Mike Leake when Martin smoked one to third, but right at Jack Hannahan for an around-the-horn DP.
Cincy got a run back in the fourth when the first two Reds singled and Jay Bruce came around after a pair of ground outs. Devin Mesoraco doubled home Cozart in the sixth, Burnett's final frame. AJ went six innings, giving up three runs on six hits and three walks with eight punchouts. At 106 pitches, his day was done, and he left with a 5-3 edge.
Not for long, though. Tony Watson lost Chris Heisey, and with two down in the seventh, Phillips again went deep, bombing another long fly to center to make it a new ballgame. It could have been worse; prior to that drive, Marte made a diving grab of a Joey Votto bid for hit. The tie, in turn, didn't hold up long, either.
JJ Hoover took the hill, got ahead of Cutch 1-2 and fed him a hook down and away. McCutchen turned on the pitch and dropped it over the fence in the left field corner for his second homer of the year. A double and walk sandwiched around an at 'em ball to left gave the Bucs a shot at some insurance runs, but they couldn't cash in.
Mark Melancon tossed a 1-2-3 eighth to set up Jason Grilli for the ninth inning save. He added a little drama by giving up a single and walk, but got the Reds man of the hour Phillips swinging at a 3-2 slider to ice the win, which went to Watson.
Jeff Locke gets the ball against Johnny Cueto tonight.
- The top four of the Bucco order - Marte, Walker, Cutch and Jones - went 8-for-16 with five RBI and four runs scored.
- Neil Walker has a career average of .500 with the bases loaded, with 42 RBIs in 32 at-bats.
- The Bucs drew 24,366 fans on a fall-like evening.