Game 161: Pirates 8 Reds 3

With an opportunity to bring the wild card game to Pittsburgh, the Pirates have responded in just about the best way imaginable at Great American Ballpark this weekend. After AJ Burnett shut the Reds down on Friday night, the Pirates' bats showed up in a big way this afternoon. Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the third to give the Bucs a 2-0 lead. When the Reds came back with three runs to take the lead in the bottom of the inning, Pedro Alvarez immediately answered with his second loooong home run in as many games to tie the game up in the top of the fourth. In the top of the fifth, Walker hit his second home run and Marlon Byrd hit a two-run homer to put the Pirates up 6-3. Andrew Lambo kept piling on with his first career homer in the sixth, and the Pirates got a final insurance run on a Clint Barmes sac fly in the eighth.

On the other side of things, Charlie Morton wasn't terribly effective for the Bucs. He coughed up the 2-0 lead as soon as the Pirates handed it to him, and when he left the game in the fifth inning, the bases were loaded and the go-ahead run was at the plate for the Reds. The good news it that the Pirates' bullpen was pretty fantastic today. Vin Mazzaro got out of Morton's in the fifth, then Justin Wilson, Tony Watson, Mark Melancon, and Bryan Morris all pitched scoreless innings of relief to close out an easy 8-3 win. 

The fallout from this one is immediate and obvious: Tuesday's wild card game will be at PNC Park. Because tomorrow's game is meaningless, Gerrit Cole will not start tomorrow and will be available out of the bullpen on Tuesday. The Reds will also be changing starters tomorrow; instead of Johnny Cueto starting the season finale, he'll be the Reds' starter on Tuesday

This is all happening. Start getting ready for Tuesday. Playoff baseball is coming to Pittsburgh, and it's going to be a wild, stressful day.

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.