Reds Vs. Pirates: Matt Hague Helps Bucs Beat Johnny Cueto

Matt Hague's clutch double helped the Pirates to a 2-1 victory and a series win over the Reds Wednesday.

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Reds Vs. Pirates: Matt Hague, A.J. Burnett Key 2-1 Win As Bucs Back To .500

Johnny Cueto usually seems to be able to defeat the Pirates at will, so the Pirates’ 2-1 win over Cueto and the Reds Wednesday night was a big one, returning them to .500 as they head into a series in Milwaukee.

Heading into the game, Cueto had an 11-3 record and a 2.55 ERA in his career against the Bucs. The Reds scored a run in the first thanks in part to a Pedro Alvarez error, and the Pirates failed to score in the second inning even after Garrett Jones tripled with one out — Matt Hague and Jose Tabata grounded out to end the threat. After five innings, it looked like Cueto might be able to pull off a 1-0 victory.

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, though, Neil Walker walked, and Garrett Jones singled. Hague, who had failed to bring Jones home in the second, came to the plate, and this time he came through, lifting a double to the gap in right-center and bringing home both runners.

The Pirates were able to maintain their 2-1 lead. A.J. Burnett went seven innings and was charged with just that one unearned run. The toxic Jason Grilli struck out two batters in the eighth, and Joel Hanrahan picked up the save, whiffing two of his own in the ninth after putting two batters on.

New shortstop Jordy Mercer singled in the first for his first big-league hit.

The Pirates (25-25) have a day off Thursday before kicking off their Brewers series Friday night.

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Pirates Vs. Reds Preview: Pittsburgh Sends A.J. Burnett To Face Johnny Cueto

The Pittsburgh Pirates hope to win the rubber game against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night. After dropping Tuesday's game 8-1, the Pirates send A.J. Burnett to the hill against a pitcher that has recently dominated the Pirates in Johnny Cueto.

Cueto's last 12 starts against the Pirates have been nothing short of overwhelming, with a 9-1 record, with a 1.87 ERA. To add insult to injury, Cueto is 7-0 at PNC Park in his last eight starts with a 1.53 ERA. Cueto will have to rebound from a spotty start against the Colorado Rockies last Friday where he went only 4.2 innings, allowing five runs on 11 hits in a loss.

On the Pirates' side, Burnett has been consistent in his last seven starts, allowing no more than two runs in each start. This includes 5.1 shutout innings against the Chicago Cubs last Friday.

The Pirates hope that they can get some offense from Andrew McCutchen, who has been hitting .423 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 16 games at home. In his career, he is 8-for-28 against Cueto, but also has three home runs and two doubles. The rest of the Pirates lineup is as such.

The Reds will be using this lineup against Burnett. Joey Votto will be given his first game off for the season, his first game off since August 23 last season.

Cozart 6
Stubbs 8
Bruce 9
Phillips 4
Heisey 7
Frazier 5
Costanzo 3
Hanigan 2
Cueto 1

The game is scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. and will be broadcast live on Root Sports with radio coverage on 93.7 KDKA FM.

For more Pirates coverage, visit Bucs Dugout. For more on the Reds, head over to Red Reporter. News and updates from the Pirates' series will be available at SB Nation Pittsburgh.

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Reds Vs. Pirates Recap: Bucs Fall 8-1 To Central-Leading Cincinnati

After nearly a two-hour rain delay at PNC Park, the Pittsburgh Pirates dipped back below .500 on Tuesday night with an 8-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. After 4-1 win on Monday, the Bucs were looking to clinch the series against the NL Central leading Reds but starter Charlie Morton lasted just four innings. Cincinnati third baseman Todd Frazier did the early damage off Morton, doubling home Jay Bruce in the second to make it 2-0. Frazier then ripped a triple to deep centerfield that scored Bruce again. But an errant Josh Harrison throw allowed Frazier to score from third on the play, extending the lead to 4-0 and closing the books on Morton.

Leading 5-1, the Reds would pour it on in the top of the seventh against Jared Hughes. Cincinnati scored three runs to move the lead to seven but it could have been much worse. Facing the heart of the order, Hughes gave up hits to the first five batters he faced. After giving up three runs, he reached the end of the order and pitcher Homer Bailey grounded into a double play to mercifully end the inning.

The Bucs only run off Bailey came in the bottom of the fifth. Casey McGehee singled home Matt Hague to make it 4-1 at the time. But with Rod Barajas and McGehee on base, Jose Tabata grounded into a double play to quickly end the rally.

Pittsburgh will once again try to pull back to .500 in the series finale. A.J. Burnett will face Johnny Cueto on Wednesday night at PNC Park

For more Pirates coverage, visit Bucs Dugout. For more on the Reds, head over to Red Reporter. News and updates from the Pirates' series will be available at SB Nation Pittsburgh.

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Clint Barmes, Not Jordy Mercer, The Pirates' Starting Shortstop, Clint Hurdle Says

Pirates Prospects reports that new addition Jordy Mercer, a shortstop promoted Tuesday from Class AAA Indianapolis, won't be replacing Clint Barmes as the Pirates' starter.

"Nothing's changed," [Clint] Hurdle said. "Barmes is our shortstop. We’ll find opportunities to get Josh involved. We’ll find opportunities to get Jordy involved as well. As a matter of fact, I talked to Clint today. Mercer was not brought up to replace Barmes. I just think it makes us a better ball club now. Our strengths, I think are in a better place."

This is about what one would expect from Hurdle in this situation. Barmes has had a terrible season, but it's still a little early for the Pirates to dump him completely, given the $10.5 million contract to which they signed him before the season. Until they're willing to part ways with him completely, it doesn't make much sense for the Pirates to declare that he'll be a bench player. Regardless, I do expect Mercer to get a fair amount of playing time at shortstop.

Josh Harrison is starting at shortstop Tuesday night against the Cincinnati Reds.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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Reds Vs. Pirates Lineups: New Addition Jordy Mercer Won't Start Against Homer Bailey And Cincinnati

Here’s the Reds’ lineup in the Pirates’ matchup against Cincinnati Tuesday.

Zack Cozart SS
Drew Stubbs CF
Joey Votto 1B
Brandon Phillips 2B
Jay Bruce RF
Ryan Ludwick LF
Todd Frazier 3B
Devin Mesoraco C
Homer Bailey P

And here’s the Pirates’ lineup:

Jose Tabata LF
Josh Harrison SS
Andrew McCutchen CF
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Neil Walker 2B
Garrett Jones RF
Matt Hague 1B
Rod Barajas C
Charlie Morton P

New addition Jordy Mercer, a shortstop, evidently is with the team, but Harrison starts at short on Wednesday. Clint Barmes sits, which is a pattern that appears likely to continue with Mercer in the fold. The rest of the lineup looks fairly normal, with Matt Hague starting at first, as has been the case in the last few games. Garrett Jones starts in right field against the righty Homer Bailey.

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

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Pirates Promote Jordy Mercer, Option Yamaico Navarro; Could Clint Barmes Be On Hot Seat?

The Pirates have switched infielders in time for Tuesday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds, promoting shortstop Jordy Mercer and optioning utilityman Yamaico Navarro to Class AAA Indianapolis. This move comes as no surprise, since general manager Neal Huntington recently suggested the Bucs might swap Mercer and Navarro.

Mercer is unlikely to provide a huge amount of help to the Pirates’ woeful offense, but he was hitting .303/.379/.417 in Indianapolis, and his defense at shortstop, based on everything I’ve seen, is solid. Clint Barmes, who received a two-year deal from the Pirates last offseason, has hit a miserable .170/.196/.270 so far; Mercer isn’t likely to hit brilliantly, but he’s certainly likely to be better than that. We’ll see how the Pirates distribute playing time at shortstop — they won’t want to completely give up on Barmes, in whom they made a $10.5 million investment, but Mercer is much younger, and he isn’t slumping.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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Pirates Vs. Reds: Pittsburgh Seeking 5th Straight Win On Tuesday

The Pittsburgh Pirates are at .500 for the first time since the fourth game of the season. They beat the Cincinnati Reds on Monday afternoon for their fourth win in a row. A win on Tuesday would put the Pirates on the winning side of the ledger for the first time since August 1, 2011.

On the mound for the Bucs is Charlie Morton, who lost his last two outings. Despite the decision, the right-hander allowed only three earned runs in seven innings of work against the Mets in his last start. He lost to the Reds on May 6, surrendering four earned runs on seven hits and two walks, including a pair of home runs.

Homer Bailey takes the hill for the Reds. Bailed picked up wins in both of his last outings, striking out 14 and walking just two. He has yet to face the Pirates this season.

Helping the Pirates at the plate is a resurgent Pedro Alvarez. He had two doubles on Monday, and has seven hits in his last 24 at-bats. Neil Walker has hits in all but two of his last 10 games. Better hitting from those two has given Andrew McCutchen more protection in the lineup.

The game starts at 7:05 p.m. from PNC Park. Fans can watch the game on ROOT Sports.

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: Pittsburgh Back To .500 Behind Another Strong Outing From James McDonald

The Pittsburgh Pirates are at .500 and suddenly three games back from the lead in the National League Central. The Pirates beat the visiting Cincinnati Reds on Monday by a final score of 4-1.

Starter James McDonald continued his ace pitching this season. He went eight innings, striking out five, walking one and giving up just five hits for his fourth win of the season. This win is his fourth in his last six starts. His ERA dropped to 2.20 and his WHIP to 0.96 with the performance.

Pittsburgh's hitters did their damage early. Pedro Alvarez drove in Neil Walker in the first inning with a double, and Garrett Jones sent him home with a single. Walked and Rod Barajas added runs in the next two innings, helping to chase Bronson Arroyo after just four innings of work.

Joel Hanrahan picked up his 12th save of the season, retiring the only batter he faced in the ninth.

Pittsburgh goes again tomorrow behind Charlie Morton.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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Reds Vs. Pirates Score: Pedro Alvarez Doubles Twice In First 3 Innings, Could Be Beginning Hot Streak

After three innings, the Pirates are off to a 4-0 lead against the Cincinnati Reds Monday afternoon, and it appears that Pedro Alvarez might be in the midst of another hot streak.

Neil Walker singled with one out in the bottom of the first inning and moved to second on an Andrew McCutchen groundout. Alvarez, who homered in Sunday’s game against the Chicago Cubs, brought Walker home with an opposite-field double that barely missed going over the wall in left. Alvarez then came home when Garrett Jones singled through the hole between first and second.

Rod Barajas kicked off the bottom of the next inning with a single. James McDonald replaced him at first after his bunt failed to advance Barajas to second. Jose Tabata walked, and then McDonald came home when Walker doubled down the first-base line, giving the Pirates a 3-0 lead.

In the third inning, Alvarez doubled yet again, and Barajas singled him home to put the Pirates up 4-0.

On the pitching side, McDonald has struck out three batters and walked one so far in three shutout innings.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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Reds Vs. Pirates Lineups: Jose Tabata To Play Monday

Here are the lineups for Monday afternoon’s matchup between the first-place Cincinnati Reds and the Pirates.

Drew Stubbs CF
Wilson Valdez SS
Joey Votto 1B
Brandon Phillips 2B
Jay Bruce RF
Chris Heisey LF
Miguel Cairo 3B
Ryan Hanigan C
Bronson Arroyo P

Jose Tabata LF
Neil Walker 2B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Garrett Jones RF
Matt Hague 1B
Rod Barajas C
Clint Barmes SS
James McDonald P

Tabata exited Sunday’s game with leg cramping, but he’s back in Monday’s lineup. Josh Harrison, who had recently been a lineup fixture, is out. Shortstop Zack Cozart gets a day off for the Reds.

McDonald has struck out at least seven batters in all of his last six starts. Arroyo, however, has pitched well this season, striking out 44 batters and walking just eight in 58.2 innings.

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

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Pirates Promote Doug Slaten, Place Juan Cruz On Restricted List

In advance of the beginning of their series against the Cincinnati Reds, the Pirates have placed reliever Juan Cruz on the restricted list (he’s apparently traveling to the Dominican Republic to take care of some personal issues) and replaced him with lefty Doug Slaten.

Slaten will take Nate McLouth’s place on the roster; McLouth was designated for assignment late last week. Slaten had an out clause in his contract that would have allowed him to leave June 1, so this move keeps him in the organization for now. Slaten had allowed just one run in 25.1 innings for Class AAA Indianapolis, although his strikeout rate (with just 15 strikeouts in the same period) suggested he wasn’t nearly as impressive as his 0.36 ERA indicated.

From the same article, Neal Huntington says he may consider promoting infielder Jordy Mercer from Indianapolis. That would be interesting, since Mercer is the organization’s most realistic long-term replacement for Clint Barmes at shortstop.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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Pirates Vs. Reds: James McDonald Tries To Keep The Momentum Going On Monday

Fresh off a sweep of the Cubs, the Pittsburgh Pirates will try to keep the momentum going in a three-game set against the Cincinnati Reds starting on Monday.

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