Difo scores winning run in ninth, Pirates keep Reds slumping
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Wilmer Difo scored on a groundout from Colin Moran with one out in the ninth inning, and the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Cincinnati Reds a seventh loss in nine games with a 5-4 win Wednesday night.
Difo skied a ball down the left-field line against Mychal Givens (3-3) that seemed primed for an out before Max Schrock overran it, allowing it to drop in play for a one-out double.
“Not really any excuses there,” Schrock said. “Misplayed the ball. That’s all that happened. I’m going to continue to keep working out there and try not to be discouraged by what happened tonight.”
Moran grounded to first, where Joey Votto couldn’t field it cleanly before moving the ball onto Givens covering. Difo beat the throw home.
“I’m a very aggressive ballplayer,” Difo said. “From a young age, I’ve always played this game very aggressively. Anytime I get on base, my mentality is always to get to the next base.”
Cincinnati fell 1 1/2 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild card in the National League. It was a half-game up on St. Louis and the San Diego Padres before losing 6-5 to Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
“We’re all in it together,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It’s all of us. We continue to do our job, compete, prepare, continue to just fight through it. It’s an honor to be able to do that. We’re still playing extremely important games. That’s fun. We have to just continue to work and continue to play. It’ll turn around.”
Chris Stratton (6-1) pitched a perfect ninth for the Pirates, striking out the first two batters before getting Jonathan India to ground out.
Kyle Farmer drove the first pitch he saw from Pirates reliever Sam Howard 381 feet into the left-field bleachers, tying it at 4 in the eighth with his 14th homer. Tucker Barnhart scored on a sacrifice fly the previous inning to cut into a 4-2 deficit.
“After a game like tonight, it was really quiet,” Farmer said. “Guys were down, as we should be. We’re down, for sure. The clubhouse is down. But just have to keep being positive. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
After falling behind by two in the first, Pittsburgh took the lead with three runs in the third.
Yoshi Tsutsugo drove in Ke’Bryan Hayes on a double to left and advanced to third on a bobble from Schrock. Bryan Reynolds tripled down the right-field line, scoring Tsutsugo, and went home on Moran’s sacrifice fly that put Pittsburgh up 3-2.
Reds starter Vladimir Gutiérrez was pulled after getting Hayes to ground out for the second out of the fourth. Tsutsugo then had an RBI single off Justin Wilson, making it 4-2.
Gutiérrez allowed four runs on five hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Mitch Keller gave up two runs, both in the first, and four hits in five innings for the Pirates. After using 32 pitches to get through the first, Keller responded with an eight-pitch second.
“Nothing really changed,” Keller said. “We just kind of got some quick outs there. They did hit a few hard, but they were right at (Ben) Gamel there in left. Just how it goes sometimes.”
CLEMENTE DAY IN PITTSBURGH
Pirates players and coaches wore Roberto Clemente’s No. 21, honoring the Hall of Fame right fielder on the day he’s celebrated around Major League Baseball. The number was also mowed into the grass in right field at PNC Park. Clemente’s son, Luis, threw out the first pitch.
Players of Puerto Rican descent and Roberto Clemente Award nominees from other major league teams were also permitted to wear Clemente’s number.
“To win that game like that was really special,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “To win on a day that’s really important to the city of Pittsburgh, the Pirates, the Clemente family, the island of Puerto Rico, it was really cool.”
Reds: OF Shogo Akiyama got his first start since Aug. 24 in place of Tyler Naquin, who is still hurting from his collision in the outfield with shortstop Jose Barrero in Saturday’s game. Akiyama, who is hitting .199, got a few starts when OF Nick Senzel (knee) was injured but hasn’t had a hit since Aug. 15. He’s struck out seven times in 16 at-bats since.
RHP Tyler Mahle (11-5, 3.73) will take the mound for the Reds to conclude the three-game series against Pirates RHP Connor Overton (0-0, 0.00), making his first major league start. Mahle, coming off allowing two runs and four hits in six innings his last time out Sept. 10, has surrendered fewer than three runs in three of his past four starts.
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