The fading Cincinnati Reds have another chance to win a series while the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates look to continue their role as spoilers to National League Central rivals.
One week after taking two of three from the Reds in Pittsburgh, the Pirates (57-94) will look for their fifth straight series victory in the finale of a three-game series Wednesday afternoon.
Since winning four straight from the Miami Marlins between Aug. 19-22, the Reds (78-74) have lost eight straight series, dropping 17 of 26 games in the process. To avoid losing another series, they must beat the Pirates on Wednesday.
Cincinnati fell four games behind the St. Louis Cardinals (81-69) in the race for the second National League wild card.
Entering Tuesday’s game, the Pirates had lost 13 straight in Cincinnati. They snapped that string with a 6-2 victory, as Pirates pitchers held the Reds to one hit in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
The Reds loaded the bases with no outs against right-handed reliever Nick Mears in the seventh inning as the Pirates protected a 3-2 lead. Instead going to a left-handed reliever, Pirates manager Derek Shelton stuck with Mears, who worked out of the jam against the heart of the Cincinnati order.
“Yeah. It sucks. It really does, especially losing games like that,” said Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer, who went 3-for-4. “Our start was really good and it kind of died out. We had the bases loaded and he got us out and made some pitches, got two of our best hitters out.
“We had our shots and just didn’t take advantage. You get punched in the stomach. No words to describe it. We just needed that big hit, and it just didn’t come. We certainly felt like we were going to win that game, no question.”
Reds manager David Bell insisted that the team isn’t giving up hope as the schedule dwindles to a precious few games.
“They’re all important games,” Bell said. “I don’t have anything to add to that. We have no choice to but to come back and try again.”
A big part of the Pirates’ offense of late has been Yoshi Tsutsugo, signed as a free agent in mid-August. Tsutsugo had a pinch-hit RBI double in Pittsburgh’s three-run eighth inning Tuesday after homering the night before as the Pirates lost at Cincinnati.
“He continues to have consistent at-bats, consistent swings, and we feel good having him hit behind (leadoff hitter Ke’Bryan Hayes) and in front of Bryan (Reynolds),” Shelton said.
In 86 at-bats with the Pirates, Tsutsugo has seven doubles, one triple and eight homers among his 27 hits.
The Reds send Luis Castillo (8-15, 4.08 ERA) to the mound Wednesday in the series finale. Castillo has faced the Pirates once this season, tossing seven scoreless innings and recording his first win on April 7. He allowed just four hits and a walk while fanning five in an 11-4 victory.
Castillo is 5-3 with a 2.35 ERA in 11 career starts against Pittsburgh.
The Pirates will counter with rookie Connor Overton (0-0, 0.00 ERA). The right-hander retired all three Reds batters he faced in the sixth inning Monday. Overton has yet to allow a run in his seven big-league games, covering 11 2/3 innings.
Overton made his first major league start Thursday against the Reds, throwing 42 pitches in three scoreless innings. He made his Pirates debut on Sept. 12, retiring all three Washington Nationals batters he faced.
Overton, acquired off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays on Sept. 6, was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on Sept. 11.
–Field Level Media