The Pittsburgh Pirates lost a ballgame for the first time this year when leading after eight innings.
Closer Joel Hanrahan blew a save in the top of the ninth, allowing two Cincinnati Reds to cross home plate as the Reds downed the Pirates, 4-3 on Sunday afternoon. The loss clinched a 20th consecutive losing season for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Despite the Bucs loss, starter Wandy Rodriguez was efficient on the afternoon, throwing six innings of two run baseball. Garrett Jones and Andrew McCutchen provided the offense for the Bucs, each with one hit batting in the three runs for the team.
The Reds struck first on the afternoon, however. After back to back singles by Brandon Phillips and Wilson Valdez, Joey Votto smashed a ground-rule double to left, scoring both Phillips and putting the Reds up 1-0.
Todd Frazier grounded out to shortstop to score Valdez in the next at-bat, putting the Reds up by two.
The Bucs answered in the bottom half of the inning when Jones belted a deep, two-run homer into the right field seats to tie the game at 2-2.
The game remained tied until the bottom of the fifth. Alex Presley started off the inning with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice by Josh Harrison. Andrew McCutchen singled to left, driving in Presley and giving the Bucs a 3-2 lead.
Tony Watson and Jason Grilli pitched scoreless seventh and eighth innings, respectively, for the Pirates, and Hanrahan came on in the ninth in attempt to seal the victory.
Xavier Paul, pinch hitting in the ninth, belted a solo home run into the right field seats to tie the game at 3-3.
After getting Drew Stubbs to pop out to second, and Ryan Hanigan to ground out to third, Hanrahan surrendered a double into the left field corner by Ryan Ludwick. Zack Cozart followed up Ludwick with another double, scoring pinch-runner Denis Phipps from second, giving the Reds a 4-3 lead.
The Pirates got two runners on in the bottom half of the ninth, but couldn’t get any offense going to bring them home. Aroldis Chapman struck out Starling Marte to end the game and clinch a Cincinnati victory.
The Pirates close out the 2012 season with a three-game, home series against the Atlanta Braves. Jeff Locke (0-3, 6.35 ERA) gets the start against former Pirate Paul Maholm (13-10, 3.71 ERA) with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.