HOUSTON -- Pirates players getting dressed following Saturday night's game paused long enough to glance up at the clubhouse TV and urge Michael Cuddyer's drive into the left-field seats of Coors Field. The seventh-inning two-run clout narrowed the Reds' lead over Colorado to 8-7. Cincinnati prevailed in that game, 9-7, keeping its two-game lead over the Bucs in the National League Central. So the home run was not as significant as the Pirates' reaction to it. Think the Bucs are aware they are in a pennant race?
"It'd be nice if the Reds could drop a game every once in a while," Jason Grilli, who'd just earned his second save, said with a scowl. The Bucs are also aware of being on a 10-game road trip that will conclude with three games in Cincinnati. Baseball's play-'em-one-game-at-a-time caveat appears to be taking a beating. "This trip is very favorable for us," Grilli said, "and we're gonna go head-to-head [with the Reds], which is going to be pretty awesome, especially when we're playing with confidence like we are. I know I am [looking forward to the Cincinnati series]." Such looks-ahead tend to make managers wince. Clint Hurdle simply shrugged. "I can't control what other people say or do," Hurdle said. "One thing I know for sure from raising three children: As soon as I tell them to not do something, I know exactly what happens next. "I do remind them that distractions can come. If you eliminate them, everyone is better served." Presumably, Hurdle was talking about eliminating the distractions, not the Reds. Not yet, anyway.