The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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July 12, 2014

Reds rally past snakebitten Pirates

CINCINNATI — Brayan Pena’s pinch-hit single in the eighth inning completed another late rally by the Reds, who overcame more injuries on Friday and beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 to keep their momentum going toward the All-Star break.

Down 5-1 after six innings, the Reds scored twice with the help of third baseman Pedro Alvarez’s throwing error in the seventh and added three more in the eighth. Cincinnati is 7-2 on its 11-game homestand leading into the break.

Devin Mesoraco homered with two outs off left-hander Tony Watson (5-1) in the eighth, and the Reds put together four more singles, with RBI hits by Ramon Santiago and Pena completing Cincinnati’s second big comeback of the week.

Curtis Partch (1-0), called up earlier in the day, escaped a bases-loaded threat in the eighth.

Aroldis Chapman fanned the side in the ninth for his 20th save in 22 chances. He has at least one strikeout in his last 40 appearances, passing Bruce Sutter for the record by a major league reliever since 1900.

Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez homered for a 4-0 lead off Cincinnati’s Mat Latos, who left after only five innings because of back spasms. It was the shortest of his six starts since returning from torn knee cartilage and a strained pitching forearm.

The Reds have been hit hard by injuries in the past week.

First baseman Joey Votto is on the DL indefinitely with a thigh injury. Second baseman Brandon Phillips tore a ligament in his left thumb and had surgery on Friday. Skip Schumaker was expected to help fill in at second base, but he went on the 7-day concussion list.

Starter Homer Bailey slightly strained his right knee on Thursday, but is expected to make his next turn. Now, it’s Latos who is a question.

Billy Hamilton had a sore hamstring on Thursday and was relegated to pinch-hitting during a 6-4, 12-inning loss to the Cubs. He was back in the lineup on Friday and produced a run right away.

He led off with a bunt toward first baseman Gaby Sanchez, pulling up and whirling his arms as he dodged the tag and then lunged for the base, touching it safely with his hand. He scored from first on Zack Cozart’s double.

McCutchen connected with one out in the fourth, tying it at 1 with his 18th career homer against the Reds. It’s the most by any player against the Reds since the start of the 2009 season.

Jay Bruce, a right fielder playing first base for the third time in his career, botched Neil Walker’s grounder for an error. Latos walked Russell Martin, and Alvarez hit his 15th homer deep to right field for a 4-1 lead. Latos had allowed a total of four runs in his last three starts.

Notes: Mike Leake (7-7), who has won his last five decisions against the Pirates, faces Charlie Morton (5-9) tonight. ... Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said RHP Gerrit Cole won’t be ready to rejoin the rotation when he’s eligible to come off the DL on July 20. Cole has a sore muscle in his right side. ... Walker was 0-for-3 with a walk, ending his 12-game hitting streak. ... Alvarez’s 15 homers rank second behind Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier (16) for most by an NL third baseman. ... The Reds optioned C Tucker Barnhart to Triple-A Louisville and called up right-handed relievers Carlos Contreras and Partch.

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