Pirates battle, but Reds win in eighth

Pirates battle, but Reds win in eighth

CINCINNATI -- The Pirates are inching closer to a win this season. This time it was about three inches in front of center fielder Chris Duffy's glove.

With two on and two out in the bottom of the eighth inning and the score tied at 5, Adam Dunn sliced a soft blooper to left center off of Mike Gonzalez that Duffy chased after, dove for and trapped. There was a slight delay in the umpires' call, but the initial ruling on the field was that the ball was caught.

The Pirates went to the dugout amidst boos from the 13,887 in attendance at Great American Ballpark while the umpires got together for a conference. The call was reversed, which led to manager Jim Tracy arguing furiously and being ejected, but the end result had Chris Denorfia scoring from second and the Reds grabbing the decisive run in for the 6-5 win.

Replays showed that the ball did bounce before Duffy snagged it into his glove.

"Initially, I thought it was one spectacular play," Tracy said.

"I tried to sell it is best I could. I thought I did a pretty good job of that," Duffy said. "I had a real good jump, it was just a long way to go and off a left-handed bat it keeps tailing toward left field."

When Tracy got the chance to review the play, he acknowledged it was not a catch.

"They huddled up, they got it right and that's the bottom line," Tracy said, but he was a bit miffed at the circumstances that surrounded the situation. "It's unfortunate that a team is already off the field and the call has been made. That's the first time I've seen a club come call the way into the dugout and have to come back out and play some more -- I've never seen that."

Tracy had a mixed review of his team's performance on the night. On one hand, he appreciated their tenacity.

"Obviously, we're having a tough time catching a break, but we continue to show a lot of character coming back in the fashion that we have," Tracy said.

Down 3-0, early, the Pirates' equalizer came when Joe Randa connected for a 371-foot rocket to the seats in left off Reds starter Brandon Claussen to tie things at 3. It was Randa's first home run of the season and first with the Bucs since 1997, when he had his first stint with Pittsburgh.

In the top of the eighth the Bucs were down again, this time 5-3, when they had another home run to answer the deficit. This time catcher Ryan Doumit lined one into the seats in right for a two-run round tripper, and the game was knotted at 5.

The missed opportunities to manufacture runs was the thing that Tracy was most disappointed in.

Duffy led off the game and was hit by Claussen's first pitch. Jack Wilson followed with a double to left to put runners on second and third with no outs, but the Bucs failed to capitalize, with the heart of the lineup -- Sean Casey, Jason Bay and Jeromy Burnitz -- unable to bring a run across.

Another Pirates' threat was put to rest when Reds reliever Mike Burns got out of his own jam in the sixth inning. Jose Castillo singled and pinch-hitter Freddie Sanchez followed with a single of his own to put runners on the corners, but Duffy grounded into a fielder's choice for the third out.

"If your going to become a good club, your going to have to capitalize on those opportunities, and thus far we have not been able to do that," said Tracy.

"This is four games in a row where in the latter part of the game we're right there," he added.

The Reds grabbed the early first-inning lead when shortstop Felipe Lopez lined a double down the left-field line and Ken Griffey Jr. followed with a single up the middle to score Lopez.

Cincinnati continued to tack on early runs against Pittsburgh starter Ian Snell, as Tony Womack hit a two-out two-run single to left-center in the second inning. After Scott Hatteberg and Javier Valentin each singled to put runners on the corners, Claussen helped his cause by successfully pushing Valentin to second with the sacrifice bunt to set up Womack. Snell went five innings, allowing 10 hits and four runs while striking out five.

The Reds went back on top when Edwin Encarnacion pinch-hit for Claussen in the fifth inning and singled to center to bring Hatteberg around from second for a 4-3 lead.

Dunn launched a monster solo shot off of reliever John Grabow in the bottom of the sixth that left Great American Ballpark on the fly in right-center to make it 5-3.

Brian Connors Manke is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.