This is about as frustrating as losses get. The Pirates went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position tonight against Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani, and Aroldis Chapman. Francisco Liriano turned in one of his smoother starts as a Pirate (six innings, 84 pitches, six strikeouts, five hits, two walks), except that two of the hits he gave up were solo home runs. Bryan Morris followed that up with two solo home runs allowed in the eighth inning, which provided the game with its final margin.
That's not to say the game was without highlights for the Pirates; there was Liriano's strong start, Starling Marte's ridiculous full-extension diving catch to rob Brandon Phillips of an RBI extra base hit (I don't think I can aptly describe this catch; Marte appeared to be shaded a bit towards center and Phillips hit a line drive to left, Marte covered a ton of ground and laid completely out to catch the liner as it both sunk and sliced away from him), and some great Andrew McCutchen high-speed base running to score on Russell Martin's double in the fourth.
Because the Pirates lost, the main topic of discussion after this one is certainly going to be that Andrew McCutchen was hit by a Mike Leake pitch in the fourth inning (the second time he's been hit by a Red pitcher this year and the third time it's happened over the last two years out of nine total HBPs for McCutchen in that span), the Neil Walker was brushed back by an Aroldis Chapman fastball in the general vicinity of his face. The Pirates chose not to respond to Leake's HBP of McCutchen since it came on an 0-2 pitch and the game was, until the eighth inning, an extremely close game were base runners mattered. It was clear that Chapman's pitch to Walker riled the Pirates up some, though. Usual Dusty Baker protocol in this situation will be to come back and hit a Pirate early in the game tomorrow, which will prompt a warning that will then freeze the Pirates from retaliating by hitting his players. I normally don't get too wrapped up in this kind of thing — baserunners are bad and giving the opponent baserunners is a bad idea — but it's really frustrating to watch the Reds pull this kind of stunt pretty much at will. I'm sure that the Pirates feel the same way.