Pirates Vs. Reds: Ramon Hernandez Grand Slam Crushes Bucs

James McDonald faces Mike Leake in the Pirates' and Reds' Saturday afternoon contest.

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Pirates Vs. Reds: Reds Homers Crush Pirates, 11-2

James McDonald’s early-season struggles continued as the Reds blew out the Pirates on Saturday afternoon, 11-2.

McDonald’s velocity was quite low throughout the game, but when he kept the ball low in the zone, he was reasonably effective. The problem was two gigantic mistake pitches to Jonny Gomes and Ramon Hernandez, both of which wound up in the outfield seats. Hernandez’s came with the bases loaded, thanks in part to an error by Pedro Alvarez.

It got worse. Mike Crotta relieved McDonald and allowed a homer of his own, this one to Drew Stubbs, as the Reds went up 9-2. Then Joe Beimel made his 2011 season debut and allowed extra-base hits to the first two batters he faced on a triple by Joey Votto and another homer by Gomes.

The Pirates’ offense did at least wrangle five walks out of Mike Leake and the Reds’ bullpen, but that was about it. This was a nasty blowout loss for a team that has had its share of blowout losses recently.

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Pirates Vs. Reds: James McDonald Tries To Get On Track

The Pirates play the Cincinnati Reds in the second game of their series Saturday afternoon at 1:10 PM.

Starting for the Pirates will be James McDonald, who is still looking to get on track after suffering from command issues in his first two starts of the season. He allowed five runs in his last start during the Pirates' ugly home series against Colorado, and he has seven walks and seven strikeouts on the season.

The Reds' starter will be Mike Leake, a rookie sensation in 2009 who joined the Reds' rotation after skipping the minor leagues completely. Like McDonald, Leake struggled through his last start, allowing six runs in 4.2 innings against the Diamondbacks. But he posted a quality start in his first outing of the season, against the Astros.

The Pirates attempt to keep things going this afternoon after an impressive performance Friday night that featured a complete game by Charlie Morton.

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