Pedro Alvarez isn't tearing up the National League so far this season but he tore the Reds to shreds in Pittsburgh's 5-3 win.
Alvarez entered the game with a .223 season average. He was hitting .229 with 14 home runs against right-handers and a paltry .167 with two home runs against left-handers. He has shown signs of coming out of his funk with hits in his last four games. He had homered five times in his last 16 contests.
The funk may not be permanently gone but he was 3-for-4 with a home run, double and five RBI.
The Reds scored an unearned run against Pittsburgh starter Brandon Cumpton. Shin-Soo Choo reached base on a throwing error by Alvarez in the first inning. He stole second and scored on Joey Votto's single.
Alvarez made up for the error with a two-out single off Reds' starter Homer Bailey.
Jay Bruce hit his 14th for the Reds in the fourth. Alvarez matched it with his 16th in the sixth off Bailey.
"I made a real good pitch to Alvarez. He hit it out. It was his day," said Bailey, who no-hit the Pirates late last season.
The Pirates were short of pitching because Charlie Morton, who was coming off elbow surgery, could only pitch five innings Tuesday. The extra inning game last night drained the Pittsburgh bullpen. Bryan Morris relieved Cumpton and was required to pitch more than one inning. Morris had three at-bats this season but was asked to lead off the seventh against Alfredo Simon.
Morris grounded a single through the left side of the infield for his first major league hit on a 1-2 pitch.
"The big blow was the leadoff single by the pitcher," Dusty Baker said. "You don't know if he's a good hitter or not. I can understand why they had him hitting there. They were short on pitching from last night."
The single started the Pirates' rally. Starling Marte followed with a single. Jordy Mercer popped up a bunt to catcher Ryan Hanigan for the first out. Andrew McCutchen walked to load the bases.
"There were some hits but also some untimely walks," Baker said.
Baker went to the mound with left-handed hitting Garrett Jones and Alvarez due up.
Cingrani pitched last night and before the game, Baker was unsure if he was available.
"I don't know if he's gone back-to-back days this year," Baker said before the game.
Cingrani entered the game anyway. The rookie, who made six starts for the Reds, was making his second bullpen appearance in as many days.
"Cingrani said he was ok," Baker said. "Manny Parra said he was a little sore."
Parra was the winning pitcher on Wednesday. It was a perfect spot for a power-armed left-hander. The Reds needed a strikeout.
Cingrani got ahead of Jones 0-2. Jones fouled off a pitch then took a ball. He fouled off three straight pitches until Cingrani struck him out.
Alvarez fouled off a first pitch fastball, then smacked a double to right, clearing the bases.
"It got too much of the plate 0-1," said catcher Ryan Hanigan, who called all fastballs. "He threw the ball great. The one pitch he missed got hit."
"Cingrani was trying to go down and away," Baker said. "He got it up a little to a hot hitter."
The Reds scored a run off Morris to get within two runs but the NL's third best bullpen as far as ERA (3.04) kept the Reds right there. The Pirates' relievers lead the league with 157-1/3 innings, nearly 47 more than Reds' relievers have pitched.
Are the Pirates for real?
"They've definitely made strides," said Homer Bailey. "To be real, they usually fade. So far they've really kept up. They're playing really good baseball. Their bullpen has been outstanding. But their bullpen also has a lot of innings. It is just going to be on them. They have a good club and they are showing that this year but if you follow patterns, they've faded out. It will be interesting to see how they do. We're not even halfway through yet."
|Professionally edited by ML Schirmer|
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