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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Reds Survive Rain And Pirates

Mat Latos struggled through the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Reds' starter left two Pirates aboard but kept them from scoring.


Then high winds blew in and rain pelted the besieged grounds crew as they struggled to get the tarp on the field in time for an hour and 17 minute rain delay.

Pittsburgh starter A.J. Burnett was on the mound when umpires signaled the grounds crew.  Later, he took the mound and was visibly less sharp.

Shin-Soo Choo doubled to establish a career-high 14-game hitting streak.  Chris Heisey bunted for a base hit.  Joey Votto hit a ground ball toward the hole between first and second.  Jordy Mercer reached for it but it glanced off his glove for an error as Choo scored.  Brandon Phillips singled to score Heisey.  Jay Bruce struck out but Jack Hannahan was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Zack Cozart drove in a run with a fly to center.  Devin Mesoraco doubled in the fourth run.

The RBI gave Phillips the National League lead in that department.

The delay may have affected Latos.

Garrett Jones hit his ninth home run.

Latos got Mercer on a fly to left, then struck out Clint Barmes on a pitch in the dirt that Mesoraco couldn't block.  Barmes reached base and moved to second on a sacrifice by Burnett.  Starling Marte walked.  Latos appeared to escape when Jose Tabata hit a ground ball to short but Cozart's throw sailed past Phillips to allow Barmes to score.

"It was the first time I had to do that," Latos said.  "There's a first time for everything.  I pitched two simulated innings during the delay for a total of 40 pitches."

"Mat (Latos) didn't have his best stuff," Mesoraco said.  "He couldn't get his breaking ball over and he left some fastballs over the plate but we were able to minimize the damage.  He kept plugging away."

The Pirates kept coming at the Reds.

The Reds got a break in the third.  After two outs, Jones walked. Mercer hit a long fly to the gap in rightcenter but the ball bounced into the stands preventing Jones from scoring.

Andrew McCutchen hit his 12th home run with two outs in the fourth to make the score 4-3.

The Reds got a little breathing room in the sixth.  Cozart opened the inning with a single.  One out later, Cesar Izturis singled Cozart to third.  Choo struck out.  Heisey walked.  Votto worked Burnett for a walk with the bases loaded.  Jeanmar Gomez came on to face Phillips, who stepped in 9 for 11 with the bases loaded.  This time Phillips struck out swinging.

In the Pirates' seventh, McCutchen hit a ball in the rightcenterfield gap that looked like a triple but McCutchen fell between second and third and was tagged out.

The Pirates created another stir with two outs and the bases empty with Alfredo Simon pitching the eighth.  Mercer singled. Barmes doubled to close the gap to one run. Simon walked Gabby Sanchez after not getting a checked swing call.  Simon hit Marte with a pitch to load the bases.  Dusty Baker brought in Logan Ondrusek, who  retired Tabata on a ground ball to Phillips.

Ondrusek struggled early in the season but a trip to the minors to study tape and make adjustments have allowed Baker to use him in pressure situations.

"It is a confidence boost when you're manager calls on you in those situations," Ondrusek said. "There wasn't a lot of wiggle room.  We had a plan with Tabata.  We were going to make him chase pitches out of the strike zone.  He took them to make it close but I was able to execute that last pitch to get the ground ball."

The Reds brought Aroldis Chapman to the mound, looking for his 23rd save.

McCutchen beat out a ground ball to deep third.  Chapman's wild pick-off attempt put McCutchen on second.  Cozart booted Pedro Alvarez' ground ball putting runners on the corner with no outs. Russel Martin popped out to Phillips at second. Pinch hitter Michael McKenry struck out swinging. Mercer stepped in looking for his third hit of the game to tie the score but Chapman struck him out swinging.

"When you have electric stuff, you can strike your way out of trouble," Dusty Baker said. "He (Chapman) has been in trouble like that most of his life, whether he walked himself into it.  Tonight there was a questionable call at firstbase.  You guys probably saw it better than I did.  We had to keep him close to first because speed kills.  McCutchen is an exceptional player.  We had three errors and that's not like our team, especially Cozart."

Mesoraco knew what he had to do with the tying run 90 feet away.

"We couldn't play for the double play.  We either had to go for the strikeout or get soft contact.  The best way to do that is to pitch in.  That's what we did," Mesoraco said.

Professionally edited by ML Schirmer
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