Pirates Vs. Reds: A.J. Burnett Leads Pirates To Much-Needed Win

The Pirates recovered to take the finale of a crucial series against the Reds.

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Pirates Vs. Reds Score: A.J. Burnett Has Bucs' Back Yet Again In 6-2 Win

A.J. Burnett's heroics continued Sunday as he led the Pirates to a critical 6-2 win, pitching 8.2 innings and retiring 18 straight batters before walking two in the ninth. He struck out seven.

The Pirates have won Burnett's last four starts, and he has pitched at least 7.1 innings in all of them.

Burnett allowed a run in the first on an RBI double by Jay Bruce, but the Pirates took the lead on a two-run homer by Neil Walker in the second. The Reds tied the score with a cheap Drew Stubbs homer in the third, but the Pirates got two more in the fourth when Starling Marte came to the plate with two on and blasted his first career triple, making it 4-2.

In the ninth, Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer since July 17 to provide the Pirates with an insurance run. Walker and Gaby Sanchez then hit weak singles, and Todd Frazier let a Rod Barajas ground ball go through his legs, giving the Pirates an extra run.

Burnett got two outs in the ninth before walking Bruce and Ryan Ludwick, and the Pirates brought in Joel Hanrahan, who got the one-out save.

The Pirates are now down 4.5 games in the N.L. Central.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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Pirates Vs. Reds: For Such An Important Game, Bucs' Lineup Certainly Is Strange

The Pirates' matchup against the Reds Sunday afternoon (1:10) is incredibly important, as it will make the difference between the Pirates leaving Cincinnati 4.5 games back or 6.5 games back.

With that said, you'd think it would behoove Clint Hurdle to act like the game is important. His lineup for Sunday afternoon's contest makes very little sense. Not only does the ultra-hot Michael McKenry continue to sit in favor of Rod Barajas (it's true that teams usually use two different catchers on a night game and a day game the following day, but McKenry also sat Friday), but Pedro Alvarez and Travis Snider sit as well, and Josh Harrison and Gaby Sanchez start in their place. It's true that Alvarez and Snider aren't exactly lighting up the scoreboards right now, but Reds starter Homer Bailey is a righty, and Alvarez and Snider are both lefties. And Sanchez doesn't really hit anyone but lefties.

Pirates:

Starling Marte LF
Josh Harrison 3B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Garrett Jones RF
Neil Walker 2B
Gaby Sanchez 1B
Rod Barajas C
Clint Barmes SS
A.J. Burnett P

Reds:

Zack Cozart SS
Drew Stubbs CF
Jay Bruce RF
Ryan Ludwick LF
Todd Frazier 3B
Miguel Cairo 1B
Wilson Valdez 2B
Ryan Hanigan C
Homer Bailey P

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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Pirates Vs. Reds Preview: A.J. Burnett Takes Mound As Bucs Seek Revenge

The Pirates lost the first two games of their series against the Reds to fall 5.5 games back of Cincinnati in the N.L. Central, but their matchup for the series finale at 1:10 p.m. on Sunday gives them a good chance to bounce back.

A.J. Burnett, who took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his last start against the Cubs and finished with a one-hitter, takes the mound against Homer Bailey.

Burnett has been the Bucs' best starter this year. Bailey's performance this season has been decent, but uneven -- he got pounded in his last start, which came against the Padres and which featured Bailey and the Reds blowing a six-run lead before Brandon Phillips hit a decisive home run in the seventh. But Bailey struck out 17 and allowed just one total earned run in his previous two starts.

This should be an entertaining game to watch not only because of its importance, but because the Pirates seem furious over the Reds throwing at them -- Aroldis Chapman hit Andrew McCutchen Friday night, and Mike Leake hit Josh Harrison on Saturday before both benches were warned. Neither McCutchen nor Harrison looked particularly happy about getting hit, and Clint Hurdle got ejected Saturday night.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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Pirates Vs. Reds: Pittsburgh Stumbles Late, 5-4

The Cincinnati Reds are on a roll. The Pittsburgh Pirates, though, found themselves at the other end of that roll on Saturday night, dropping the second game of the team's three-game weekend series by a final score of 5-4. Cincinnati is currently winners of 21 of its last 24 games.

The Pirates did manage to keep pace with the Reds for much of the contest, working their way out to a 3-2 lead after four innings. They grabbed three runs in the second, third and fourth innings, highlighted by a solo home run from catcher Michael McKenry. A late eighth-inning rally would push Cincinnati ahead.

After Aroldis Chapman hit Andrew McCutchen on Friday, Mike Leake hit Josh Harrison in the second inning Saturday. Both benches were warned, and Clint Hurdle came out to argue and was ejected.

Pirates starter James McDonald would toss 98 pitches over six innings, surrendering seven hits and four runs (three earned).

The series finale is scheduled for Sunday at 1:10 p.m. EST at PNC Park. The Bucs now trail the first-place Reds by 5.5 games in the N.L. Central.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Reds, there's Red Reporter.

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Pirates Vs. Reds Lineups: Starling Marte Sits; Brandon Phillips Starts

Here are the lineups for Saturday night's 7:10 p.m. contest between the second-place Pirates and the first-place Reds.

Pirates:

Alex Presley LF
Neil Walker 2B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Garrett Jones 1B
Michael McKenry C
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Travis Snider RF
Josh Harrison SS
James McDonald P

Alex Presley starts in left and bats leadoff in place of rookie Starling Marte.

Reds:

Zack Cozart SS
Drew Stubbs CF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Jay Bruce RF
Ryan Ludwick LF
Scott Rolen 3B
Todd Frazier 1B
Dioner Navarro C
Mike Leake P

The Reds' injuries haven't seemed to hurt them much during their nearly month-long run of brilliant play, but nonetheless, here are injury updates for Saturday. Brandon Phillips (calf) returns to the lineup for the Reds after missing three days with a calf injury. Jay Bruce is back in the lineup after missing a start on Friday. And Dioner Navarro starts in place of Ryan Hanigan. Joey Votto (knee) is still out.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Reds, there's Red Reporter.

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Pirates Vs. Reds: James McDonald Needs To Get Back On Track In Key Series

The Pirates got off to a tough start Friday in a big series against the Reds, as Mat Latos, Jonathan Broxton and Aroldis Chapman held the Bucs to four hits in a 3-0 Cincinnati victory.

On Saturday (7:10), the Bucs will try to get back on track as James McDonald faces Mike Leake. That means McDonald himself will have to get back on track, and the biggest challenge McDonald faces in this game might come from himself, not so much from who he faces. Since a 10-strikeout performance against the Giants July 10, McDonald has been terrible, walking 19 batters in four starts while struggling with both his control and his velocity. His last start was a seven-walk stinker against the Astros.

Leake himself only lasted 1.2 innings in his last start, which came against the Padres. In his last start against the Pirates, on June 7, he struck out five batters and walked none in seven innings, but he allowed four runs.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Reds, there's Red Reporter.

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Pirates Vs. Reds Recap: Bucs Drop Series Opener In Cincinnati

The Pittsburgh Pirates started their weekend series in Cincinnati 3.5 games back of the Reds and looking to close some ground. Cincy starter Mat Latos and a 1-2 fireballing punch in the bullpen had other ideas however, shutting down the Bucs offense for a 3-0 Reds win. Latos gave up just four hits in 7.1 innings of scoreless work. A walk to Travis Snider created a minor threat in the first inning, but Latos struck out Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones to strand Snider on third. Latos issued two more walks in the top of the fifth but a Clint Barmes double play quickly ended that rally.

Jonathan Broxton came on in relief of Latos in the eighth and the newly-acquired Red quickly retired the side to hand the ball over to Aroldis Chapman. The Cuban closer was amped up and blew his triple-digit fastball by both Snider and then Jones to end the game.

Pittsburgh starter Wandy Rodriguez was not exactly chopped liver on the mound either, but the Reds had two quick strikes that would be enough for Latos. Chris Helsey motored around the bases in the second inning for an inside-the-park home run to break the scoreless tie. In the bottom of the fifth, it was Latos who helped himself out with a two-run homer over the left-field wall to make it 3-0.

The Bucs will try to get it back on Saturday with James McDonald on the mound. He'll be opposed by Mike Leake.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Reds, there's Red Reporter.

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Pirates Vs. Reds Lineups: Brandon Phillips Still Out For Cincinnati

Although he was able to take grounders at second base Friday afternoon, Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips is still out of the lineup Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It is unknown how much longer the team will be without their slugging middle infielder, as he has been out since Tuesday with a strained calf.

Also out for the Reds will be Joey Votto who is still on the disabled list, and Jay Bruce who is sitting out against a lefty starting pitcher. It is the first time since 2010 that Phillips, Votto and Bruce are all absent from the lineup.

The two teams begin a crucial three-game set at Great American Ballpark Friday night. Here are the lineups for the game.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Starling Marte LF
Travis Snider RF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Garrett Jones 1B
Neil Walker 2B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Rod Barajas C
Clint Barmes SS
Wandy Rodriguez

Cincinnati Reds

Zack Cozart SS
Drew Stubbs CF
Ryan Ludwick LF
Scott Rolen 3B
Todd Frazier 1B
Chris Heisey RF
Miguel Cairo 2B
Ryan Hannigan C
Mat Latos P

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Reds, there's Red Reporter.

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Pirates Vs. Reds: Bucs Face Most Important Series Of Season So Far

The Pirates won't have to face Joey Votto or Johnny Cueto, but it still will be a very tough series against a first-place Reds team that seemingly can't lose.

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