Dusty Baker wanted for Homer Bailey to get the win but Pittsburgh salvaged one game in the series with a 3-2 win.
The Texan loves the heat and had not pitched in nine days. Any run support at all and Bailey would have won his first game since his no-hitter. His stuff was no-hit quality but the Pirates put the bat on the ball just enough late to score the deciding two runs. Bailey struck out a career-high 12 batters.
Bailey hung a first-pitch slider to Garrett Jones in the second inning. Jones hit his 10th home run of the season and second in as many days.
The Reds' starter had the misfortune of facing, young Jeff Locke, who came into this start with a snake-belly low 2.15 ERA.
The Reds managed only an infield single by Shin-Soo Choo that extended his career-high hitting streak to 15 games. Choo was picked off. Joey Votto walked one out later. The Reds scored without a hit to tie the game in the fifth. Zack Cozart and Corky Miller walked with one out. Bailey advanced them with a sacrifice bunt. Cozart scored on a wild pitch by Locke.
Bailey was mowing down Pirate hitters after Jones' home run. Michael McKenry and Locke singled and Clint Barmes walked to become Pittsburgh's baserunner through six innings.
Bailey was still strong in the seventh. Jones struck out swinging. McKenry fouled off four pitches in a 10-pitch, full-count at-bat before hitting a double to leftcenterfield. The last two pitches to McKenry were 98 and 96 mph. Jordy Mercer singled past Brandon Phillips to score McKenry. Bailey got Barmes to hit a weak ground ball to shortstop but it was too weak for Cozart to make a play. Pinch hitter Jose Tabata singled just out of the reach of Phillips to plate Mercer.
"I wanted to get Homer the win," Baker said. "He was dealing. He is stronger than most. He likes the heat. He's from Texas."
There were other considerations. The Reds are going to play 34 games in the next 35 days, including a make-up game as part of a double header in San Franciso on Tuesday. Bailey last pitched nine days ago.
"You don't want to get upside down in your bullpen, when you have a stretch like this coming up but mostly, we wanted to get Homer the win," Baker said. "This is a team game but let's face it we all have individual goals. Homer deserved a chance to win."
The way Bailey was throwing, he was the Reds' best mound option.
"As far as personal goals, when we win, I win," Bailey said. "We made some really good pitches. It just didn't work out for us. If you look at my velocity that last inning it was pretty obvious, I wasn't physically tired. Dusty is really good about that (checking with pitchers). At the end of the day, we were still making good pitches. We got two ground balls that we just missed. The game of inches played out. Then McKenry's at-bat, foul off, foul off, he took pitches he swung at in the past. Locke threw a great game for them. Tip your cap to them it was their day."
Bailey was particularly frustrated by Barmes' ground ball.
"I'm trying to get a ground ball. That's what I got. A guy on first, it's hit slow enough that we can't make a play. Those kind of things are frustrating but you don't make an adjustment on that. That's what I mean."
The Reds had an opportunity to tie the game and break it open against Mark Melancon who had a string of 15 scoreless appearances.
Pinch hitter Derrick walked to open the inning. Choo singled for the Reds' second hit of the game. Chris Heisey walked to load the bases for Votto. Votto grounded to Jones at first, who was able to play off the bag with the bases loaded. The Pirates turned a 3-6-1 double play with Melancon covering. Phillips the NL RBI leader grounded out to shortstop.
A one-out single in the ninth by Todd Frazier off closer Jason Grilli was the only threat the Reds could muster in the ninth.