Pirates 4, Reds 1: Bailey wild as Pirates win opener
CINCINNATI — Homer Bailey couldn’t find the strike zone last night at Great American Ball Park, and his walk on the wild side helped the Pittsburgh Pirates top the Cincinnati Reds 4-1 in a pivotal game between the two National League qualifiers for the wild-card game.
Pittsburgh now leads Cincinnati by two games with two to play in the season and needs just one more victory to claim home-field advantage in the one-game wild-card format.
“We were just all over the place,” Bailey said. “We had four walks and two hit batters (in five-plus innings). The worst thing, it’s just terrible timing to have a bad game. It’s tough. I think both of the hit batters were with two strikes.”
A year ago today, Bailey (11-12) dropped a no-hitter on the Pirates. Last night, he wasn’t anywhere near as fine with his control.
“He didn’t have it tonight,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He didn’t have his command. We’ve got to come back (today) as a team. This team knows how to come back. We needed two out of three. Now we’ve just got to get the last two.”
A sellout crowd of 40,107 filled the stadium, but Pittsburgh starter A.J. Burnett (10-11) clamped a lid on the excitement with eight workmanlike innings.
“That guy can pitch,” Baker said.
Bailey showed the first sign of the trouble to come when he hit Neil Walker with a pitch in the first inning and moved him to second with a wild pitch.
He opened the third inning by hitting Starling Marte with an 0-and-2 pitch. With one out, Marte stole second on a pitch in the dirt to Andrew McCutchen. Bailey then walked McCutchen.
A walk to Justin Morneau loaded the bases, and Marlon Byrd made Bailey pay with a two-run single that gave the Pirates a 2-0 lead.
Todd Frazier pumped some life into the home crowd in the fourth inning by lining a pitch off the foul pole in left for his 19th home run of the season to cut the deficit to 2-1.
“Fastball is the key to hit for me,” Frazier said. “I got one pitch to hit, and fortunately I got the hit, but we didn’t win.”
Bailey fell behind Byrd 2 and 0 to start the sixth inning, and the veteran lined the next pitch off the wall in left-center for a double. Pedro Alvarez followed with a long, two-run home run to stretch the Pittsburgh lead to 4-1 and end Bailey’s evening.
“The only guy he’d gotten out with any consistency was Alvarez,” Baker said. “Alvarez was like 2 for 20 with eight strikeouts. You throw the ball where you want to, and you can get him out. If you don’t throw the ball where you want to, then he can hit it out of the park.”
The Reds and Pirates play game two this afternoon.
“We know what they got; they know what we got,” Frazier said. “It’s good to have an early game (today). Nobody puts their head down. We come in fired up, and away we go.”