PITTSBURGH -- Having weathered six innings of Johnny Cueto, the Pittsburgh Pirates had evened the game in the late innings against the Cincinnati Reds. For the fourth time in four games, though, the Pirates' bullpen faltered.
Todd Frazier's go-ahead homer against Jason Grilli in the ninth inning sent the Pirates to a 6-5 loss against the Reds at PNC Park Tuesday night.
Grilli entered the game in the ninth inning with the score tied, 5-5. He fell behind Frazier, the first batter he faced, 2-0 with two sliders. Grilli threw a fastball that Frazier hit off the batter's eye in dead center field for his 16th home run of the season. Entering Tuesday night, Grilli had allowed a run in only two of his 10 outing since coming off the disabled list in late May.
Though the bullpen's struggles only cost them one win against Miami Marlins over the weekend, the unit's effectiveness has lapsed in recent games. Entering Tuesday's game, the bullpen's 4.82 June ERA ranked 12th in the National League.
Trailing 5-2 after the Reds had scored two runs off Justin Wilson in the top of the seventh, the Pirates set about cracking Sam LeCure. Starling Marte singled, extending his hitting streak to eight games. Andrew McCutchen walked and Marte took third on a wild pitch. Ike Davis, who entered the game 4 for 38 in June, singled to score Marte.
Russell Martin, who walked in his first three plate appearances and drove a run home with one of them, also singled, scoring McCutchen. The Reds brought in lefty Manny Parra to face Pedro Alvarez, whom Hurdle replaced with Gaby Sanchez, but Sanchez struck out. Another pitching change meant Josh Harrison, who already had an RBI double in the game, faced Logan Ondrusek. Harrison singled to tie the game.
Billy Hamilton was on base four times, twice on bunt singles. He scored twice and stole three bases. Joey Votto drove in three runs.
Brandon Cumpton allowed hard contact but surrendered only three runs in six innings.
Hamilton, whose 25 steals entering the game ranked second in the NL, led off the game with a bouncer over the head of Alvarez, who was playing shallow to guard against the bunt. Hamilton ended up on second with a double.
Hamilton stole third, but replays showed that Alvarez's tag might have hit Hamilton's hand just before he touched the bag. Hurdle discussed the play with crew chief Jerry Layne, the third-base umpire Tuesday, but did not challenge. Votto singled to score Hamilton.
Hamilton reached again in the third on a one-out bunt single. He took off for second, then advanced to third when Martin's throw bounced into center field.
Brandon Cumpton struck out Todd Frazier on a slider. He then threw his 2-2 pitch to Votto high and tight, causing Votto to duck out of the way. After Votto struck out on a checked swing to strand Hamilton on third, he slammed his bat and helmet in frustration.
The Reds made up for it in the next inning with three consecutive hits, including a double from Jay Bruce, and a fielder's choice that scored two runs. They would load the bases, the final runner courtesy of Cumpton's four-pitch walk to Hamilton on four consecutive fastballs in off the plate, but Frazier flied out to end the inning.
Hamilton reached again in the seventh on a bunt against Justin Wilson and stole second. Frazier singled, then stole second with the infield drawn in, and Votto's single scored them both.
Cueto, who allowed two runs and four walks in six innings, entered the game ranked second in the National League in innings pitched, strikeouts and ERA. His .160 batting average against led the major leagues. Three times he had thrown a complete game, and during two of those, he shut his opponent out.
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