Pittsburgh Pirates’ slugger Pedro Alvarez, left, is congratulated by Garrett Jones after they defeated the Cincinnati Reds 5-3 Thursday, June 20. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
by Joe Kay
CINCINNATI (AP) – Pedro Alvarez drove in all of Pittsburgh’s runs with a solo homer, bases-loaded double and a single Thursday, leading the Pirates to a 5-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds and a split of their high-profile NL Central series.
The Pirates remain a half-game behind second-place Cincinnati after the four-game set, keeping them virtually shoulder-to-shoulder as they chase the torrid St. Louis Cardinals.
Alvarez had an RBI single and his 16th homer off Homer Bailey, who couldn’t follow his no-hitter against Pittsburgh with a win. After Alfredo Simon (5-3) loaded the bases in the seventh, Alvarez doubled off left-hander Tony Cingrani to snap a 2-all tie.
The five RBIs were a season high for a Pirate and one shy of Alvarez’s career high. The third baseman has been Pittsburgh’s top run producer in June, leading the team with 48 RBIs overall.
Bryan Morris (4-2) contributed to the go-ahead rally with his first career single. He also pitched two innings, allowing one run. Left-hander Tony Watson pitched the last two innings for his second save in three chances.
Jay Bruce hit another solo homer, his third of the series and his fifth in seven games. His ninth-inning shot off Jason Grilli led the way to a 2-1, 13-inning win on Wednesday night.
The teams combined for seven homers in the series, all solo shots. Cincinnati hit four in a 4-1 win that opened it.
Brandon Cumpton made his second major league start for Pittsburgh, giving up two runs – one earned – in five innings.
Bailey faced the Pirates for the first time since his no-hitter at PNC Park last September and left after six innings with the score tied at 2. He gave up six hits, throwing 113 pitches. Bailey is 8-2 career against Pittsburgh.
Alvarez’s throwing error helped the Reds get an unearned run in the first. Shin-Shoo Choo reached on Alvarez’s team-high 13th error, stole second and came around on Joey Votto’s single.
Another batter got hit, extending a prominent theme to the Ohio River rivals’ series this season. At least one batter has been plunked in each of the 10 games, with 19 hit overall. Pirate pitchers have hit 10, Reds pitchers 9, leaving some simmering unhappiness on both sides.
Choo has been hit six times, Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen three times each, Brandon Phillips twice, and five others one time apiece.
NOTES: The official scorer changed a call from Wednesday night game. Russell Martin’s grounder off Bronson Arroyo’s glove was originally ruled an error, leaving the Pirates’ lone run unearned. It was changed to a hit. … The Pirates added to their depleted bullpen by calling up RH Duke Welker from Triple-A and optioning OF Alex Presley. … A day after actor James Gandolfini died, Reds 3B and New Jersey native Todd Frazier replaced his Frank Sinatra at-bat music with the theme from “The Sopranos.” … Pittsburgh struck out 8, 17, 10 and 12 times in the four games. … The Pirates head to the West Coast to play three against the Angels and two in Seattle. The Reds have an eight-game trip to Arizona, Oakland and Texas.
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