Neither the Bucs not Burnett looked real prepared to pick up action. Choo doubled, Chris Heisey bunted for a knock when AJ checked for a play at third and was late going to first, and a grounder to second rolled under Jordy Mercer, scoring Choo and allowing Heisey to get to third. Brandon Phillips singled in a run before Jay Bruce whiffed. Jack Hannahan got plunked by a slurve on a 1-2 pitch to load the bases, and a sac fly followed by a fly ball double made it 4-0 in a hurry.
The Bucs cut the lead in half in the second. Garrett Jones homered, and an out later, Clint Barmes K'ed on a pitch in the dirt, but it got away from C Devin Masorcao and Barmes reached first. A bunt got him to second, then Marte walked. JT banged one to short; Zack Cozart missed his flip to second, and the miscue allowed Barmes to score to make it 4-2. Choo opened by singling of Jones' glove - is it gonna be another of these days? - but a fly and a strike 'em out, toss 'em DP quietly ended the frame.
The Bucs got a bad break in the third. With Jones aboard after a two out walk, Mercer lined one to left, but it hopped the wall for a ground rule double; Jones would have scored easily. An intentional walk to Barmes and a K of AJ ended the frame. Burnett was back in pitching rhythm, though, striking out the side.
Cutch cut the lead to one with a two out homer to center in the fourth. AJ was in a little hot water when Cozart led off with a double and moved to third on a bouncer, but Burnett whiffed Latos and got Choo to bounce to second. The Bucs went quietly in the fifth, and the Reds came after Burnett again. Back-to-back singles with an out put two Reds aboard, but a pair of grounders ended the frame without any damage.
JJ Hoover took over in the sixth (Latos was at 99 pitches) and the Pirates went down 1-2-3. With two out and two on, AJ issued back-to-back walks to force in a run, getting squeezed some on Votto's at-bat, not unusual when Joey's up. At 109 pitches, AJ was yanked. He didn't have his good stuff, but managed to dodge the raindrops after the first, giving up five runs (two earned) in 5-2/3 innings on 10 hits with two walks and eight punchouts. Jeanmar Gomez got the call to face Phillips, who he whiffed on three pitches. But the Reds are up 5-3 now.
Sam LeCure climbed the hill in the seventh. After an out, Cutch doubled to right but was gunned trying to get to third. He should have had it standing up, but took a belly-flopper rounding second into third and was tagged out trying to get back, with a heads-up Votto trailing the play while the middle infield relay guys were out. Pedro flew out, and the Bucs had another zippo. Gomez was dealing; he struck out the side around a walk, and has nine swing-and-misses from the five batters he's faced without a ball being put in play.
Alfredo Simon opened the eighth. Mercer singled to center with two down, and Travis Snider stepped to the plate. He ripped a 3-2 two seamer on the outer half into left for a double to score Mercer, and Josh Harrison came in to run. Gaby was sent to the batter's box next and drew a walk. Two pinch hitters in a row aboard, whoa! Marte got plunked - the teams are even at one apiece today - and Logan Ondrusek toed the rubber against JT. But the best Tabata could muster was a grounder to second, and it was 5-4 going into the ninth.
Mark Melancon came on and Harrison stayed at second with Mercer going to short, and worked a 1-2-3, 10 pitch frame. Aroldis Chapman took the ball to face the middle of the Buc order. Cutch opened with an infield knock. He went to second when a pickoff toss went astray, and the Reds imploded a little more when Cozart mishandled Pedro's bouncer to put runners on the corners. Cutch made a bonehead move going to third on the ball, but perhaps distracted the SS enough to make it pay off. Martin didn't help the cause, popping out. And holy deja vu - Mike McKenry went to the plate. Chapman sat him down after five 101 MPH heaters. Mercer got the same treatment, swinging through a 102 MPH fastball that was down and in, and the Bucs went down again.
Well, it's a broken record. 0-for-10 with RISP and 12 stranded runners, with some bad juju mixed in. If Aj makes the simple play or Mercer catches that grounder in the first, if Mercer's double catches the wall instead of the seats, if Cutch doesn't trip over second base... But you make your own breaks, and as much as the Reds tried to hand the game to Pittsburgh - it was sloppy on both sides - the Bucs could do no more than make it exciting.
Jeff Locke tries to get a win in the Pirate column tomorrow afternoon against Homer Bailey.
- If Cutch hadn't taken a header on the way to third in the seventh, he would have hit for the cycle.
- Rob Bietempfel of the Trib Review has a couple of injury updates: He tweets that Wandy and J-Mac will begin throwing programs next week. That means if all goes well, they're looking at a September return, and that explains why the FO has been involved in rumors for Matt Garza, Bud Norris, etc. Rob added that Kyle McPherson had TJ surgery July 10th, so he won't even be 2014 depth.
- A Pirate rumor recap by Chris Cotilla of The Daily Dish.
- John Sickel of Minor League Baseball picked his Top 75 Prospects, and has Jameson Taillon, Gregory Polanco, Alen Hansen and Tyler Glasnow on the list.