The Cincinnati Reds have had a hard time coming up with big hits in clutch situations lately.
Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke , who continues to surprise, will try to extend Cincinnati's woes Wednesday night at Great American Ball Park.
The Pirates (42-29) ended Mat Latos ' streak of 21 straight regular-season starts without a loss - despite his nine strikeouts in five innings - with a 4-0 victory on Tuesday. Cincinnati equaled Pittsburgh's four hits, but was hitless in five at-bats with men in scoring position while the Pirates were 3 for 9.
Pittsburgh's 12th shutout, which leads baseball, also was the second for the Reds (43-29) in their last four games. They've managed 20 runs over their last seven games while batting .219, including .125 with runners in scoring position. They're 1 for 25 in such situations in their last four contests.
Cleanup hitter Brandon Phillips is 1 for 16 in the last four games, leaving seven runners on base.
Choo being hit didn't sit well with Latos. The Pirates have hit 39 batters, more than any other team. Choo, though, has also been hit 19 times - the most in baseball.
"It's time that somebody stepped up and did something about the team that's hit more guys in the league than anybody," Latos said.
A win for the Pirates would move them past the Reds for second place in the NL Central.
Locke (6-1, 2.19 ERA) is 3-0 with a 0.98 ERA over his last six starts and allowed two hits over seven innings in Friday's 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers . Barely earning the job as the team's fifth starter out of spring training, Locke seems to have settled in.
"I wouldn't say (my) comfort level has changed at all," said the left-hander, who earned his first win of the season on April 13 against Cincinnati, giving up one run and four hits over five innings in a 3-1 final. "It's still uncomfortable. The confidence is definitely there. That's something I've gained into spring training and I've been able to carry it through the first half of the season so far."
The Reds counter with Bronson Arroyo (6-5, 3.27), who has an 8.40 ERA in losing each of his last three starts versus Pittsburgh, failing twice to last more than four innings.
Cincinnati will hope his recent success - he owns a 1.66 ERA over his last three outings overall - can translate to Wednesday. The right-hander gave up a season-high 12 hits in Friday's 4-3 victory over Milwaukee, but his ability to go 7 2-3 innings was crucial after the Reds used seven pitchers in a 14-inning loss to the Chicago Cubs a day earlier.
"I knew the bullpen was tired and I needed to go deep into the game," Arroyo said. "Luckily, they swung at a lot of first pitches. I think I only had like 30 pitches after four innings."
Walker is hitless in six at-bats in this series, and 1 for 17 in his last five games versus the Reds.
|June 09, 2013||A.J. Burnett||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|June 06, 2013||Jared Hughes||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 06, 2013||Wandy Rodriguez||15-Day DL||Left forearm tightness|
|June 03, 2013||Phil Irwin||60-Day DL||Right arm fatigue|
|June 03, 2013||Jeanmar Gomez||15-Day DL||Right forearm tightness|
|May 28, 2013||Jose Contreras||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|June 14, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor mass strain|
|June 01, 2013||Johnny Cueto||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|June 01, 2013||Johnny Cueto||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|May 21, 2013||Sean Marshall||15-Day DL||Sprained left shoulder|
|April 28, 2013||Chris Heisey||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|April 27, 2013||Chris Heisey||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained hamstring|
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Jay Bruce had barely put the ball in play whenever he faced Jason Grilli . His first career hit off the Pirates' closer was some breakthrough.
Bruce ended Grilli's saves streak with a solo homer in the ninth, and Brandon Philips singled with the bases loaded in the 13th inning on Wednesday night, rallying the Cincinnati Reds to a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates .
Two outs away from a second straight shutout, the Pirates let it get away.
Grilli started the ninth needing one more save to tie a club record. He had converted each of his 25 chances this season, one shy of Joel Hanrahan 's 2011 club record to open a season.
With one out, Bruce came up with a daunting personal history - 0 for 7 in his career against Grilli with five strikeouts. He waited on a first-pitch fastball and got it, connecting for his fourth homer in his last six games.
"They threw him one fastball too many," manager Dusty Baker said.
It was the first homer Grilli had allowed this season. Cincinnati hadn't scored in its last 17 innings since Bruce hit a solo homer during a 4-1 win on Monday night.
"I've had pretty good success against him," Grilli said. "You feel horrible because the bullpen has been working a lot and we had to go extras and work harder. You lose a tough ballgame in an important series."
Manny Parra (1-1) pitched the 13th, and the Reds won it against Vin Mazzaro (3-2). Derrick Robinson and Shin-Soo Choo singled with one out, and Joey Votto was walked intentionally. Phillips singled up the middle to end it.
"That's what Brandon does," Bruce said. "I've been watching him for six years, so I'm a little accustomed to it."
Phillips was hit on the left forearm in Pittsburgh on June 1 and missed four games with a bruise. He was batting only .164 since he got back in the lineup.
"I haven't been feeling right and I was doing things I don't normally do," Phillips said. "I felt a little better today."
The Reds are 5-7 in extra innings, tied with Colorado for most in the majors. They've gone extra innings in three of their last seven games. The Pirates are 4-4 after their longest game of the season.
Cincinnati has held onto second place in the NL Central by winning two of three in the series, which concludes on Thursday.
Pittsburgh left-hander Jeff Locke gave up only four hits and three walks in seven innings. Starling Marte tripled and scored on an error by pitcher Bronson Arroyo in the third.
Both teams wasted chances to end it earlier. The Reds had a runner thrown out at the plate, and the Pirates left the bases loaded twice and got two runners picked off. Also, Bruce stretched to the top of the wall in right to rob Andrew McCutchen in the seventh.
Arroyo gave up six hits in seven innings. He hit Russell Martin in the back of the left shoulder with an 88 mph fastball in the fifth inning. Alfredo Simon hit Jordy Mercer in the back in the ninth, the 18th time a batter's been hit during the nine games between the teams this season.
Pirate pitchers have plunked 10, Reds pitchers eight. Choo has been hit six times, Marte three times, Phillips and McCutchen twice each, and five other players once apiece.
The Pirates pulled off an unusual relay to cut down a runner at the plate in the second inning. Zack Cozart tried to score from first base on Ryan Hanigan 's two-out double to left. Marte's throw to the infield went over Mercer's head at shortstop, but second baseman Neil Walker was backing up the play, made the relay and got Cozart.
NOTES: The Reds haven't been shut out in back-to-back games since Aug. 30-31, 2011, when they lost to the Phillies 9-0 and 3-0. ... Pirates LHP Wandy Rodriguez , on the DL with tightness in his left forearm, will throw 35 to 40 pitches off a mound on Thursday. If he has no problems, he'll make a rehab start in the minors on Sunday. ... Arroyo had another scoreless first inning. He has allowed one run total in the first innings of his last 19 starts. ... RHP Homer Bailey starts the final game of the series for Cincinnati. He's 8-2 in career against Pittsburgh, including a no-hitter at PNC Park last September. RHP Brandon Cumpton makes his second career start for the Pirates.
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