Down by nine runs after three innings, the Bucs have 13 to answer CINCINNATI — The Pirates aren’t ready to wave the white flag. Not yet. Despite blowing a nine-run lead in the third, Pittsburgh stormed back and scored 13 unanswered runs for a historic 13-12 victory Saturday night at Great American Ball Park, snapping a seven-game losing streak. go It was quite a comeback — Elias said it was actually the Pirates’ biggest in the franchise’s 142-year history. Coming into the game, they were 0-819 when trailing by nine or more runs. Pittsburgh’s win put the dagger in the Reds, who fell 2 1/2 games behind the Cubs for the final Wild Card spot in the National League.
Cincinnati holds the lead over Chicago and Arizona (who leads the Reds by three games), but the team also needs to leapfrog the Marlins to make the playoffs. “It’s a good feeling tonight. I’m really proud of our group,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “I’d say it’s up there. … Homecomings are really special, but with this group, at the end of this year, it’s right up there.” Things looked bleak for the Pirates early.
Even the players admitted it. But they never lost faith and slowly but surely came out. After coming back on Alfonso Rivas’ RBI single in the fourth, the Pirates mounted a comeback in earnest as they chased Reds starter Connor Phillips, who struck out nine over five dominant innings. After Alex Young entered, Ji Hwan Bae and Joshua Palacios hit RBI singles to right before Bryan Reynolds crushed the opposite field with a three-run home run that cut the deficit to three in the sixth. “It’s funny because [hitting coach Andy] Haines was standing right next to me and he said, ‘He’s going to hit a homer here, it’s going to be real,” Shelton said.
He hit a homer and it’s going on, to be real I give them credit, man. They fought back.” The Pirates’ rally picked up where it left off in the seventh with the first four batters reaching base, capped by a bases-clearing double by Rivas that tied the game. Although they didn’t take the lead in that inning, the team had a gasp from the crowd and felt like they were starting to regain momentum.
The top of the eighth was more or less the same, with six of the first seven batters reaching base, highlighted by RBI singles by Jack Suwinski and Rivas and a two-run double by Bae. That made it the second game of a four-game winning streak in which the Pirates hit a baker’s dozen. “We’re playing really good baseball right now,” said Reynolds, who extended his hitting streak to 21 games. “But we’ve done it now, it feels like.
We’re just going to keep going and keep getting better and set it up well for the future.” The ability to score runs was obviously the key to the comeback, but the box score lacked great defensive plays. Cincinnati threatened in the eighth inning after cutting the deficit to two. With runners on first and second and one out, catcher Endy Rodríguez made a crucial block on a ball in the dirt.
That kept the runners from advancing and put Bae in position to make a diving stop on a grounder to center field before turning into a double play with a last-second inning. Rookie Rodríguez showed his veteran skills again in the ninth when he walked Carmen Mlodzinski after the Reds earned their first two hits in the ninth. Although TJ Friedl pulled Cincinnati home with two runs, Mlodzinski was able to finish his first MLB save by striking out Elly De La Cruz and getting Jonathan India to fly out
“I just feel like it’s a new culture that we want to continue,” said third baseman Jared Triolo, who went 4-for-5 with three strikeouts. “It was a really fun game to play, probably a lot of fun to watch.”