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Grilli reprises role, earns first save since July

Grilli reprises role, earns first save since July

Grilli reprises role, earns first save since July

PITTSBURGH -- If the opportunity arises, manager Clint Hurdle said, Jason Grilli will reclaim his job as closer for the Pirates' critical meeting with the Reds on Saturday night.

The opportunity did arise, and Grilli came on in the ninth to earn his first save since July 21 during the Pirates' 4-2 win over the Reds. Grilli gave up a leadoff single to Ryan Ludwick, erased him with a double play by Jay Bruce and sealed the victory with a groundout from Zack Cozart.

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"Watching these guys do it for so long made me want to come back and do it with them," Grilli said. "It's what you want, to play meaningful games at the end of the year. This is what you dream about when growing up in the backyard, and what you talk about in Spring Training."

Mark Melancon, involved in a second ninth-inning meltdown in three days in the Bucs' 6-5 loss in 10 innings to Cincinnati on Friday, will resume his earlier setup duties.

Their roles have reverted to what they had been prior to Grilli's July 22 forearm injury -- at least, temporarily.

"I talked to Mark and Jason. If there's a save opportunity, Jason gets it tonight," Hurdle said earlier Saturday. "I'm approaching it day by day."

Grilli was leading the National League in saves with 30 when he was injured. Melancon, a former closer with the Astros, stepped into his shoes and had converted 16 of 18 save opportunities until the two consecutive blown saves.

"I talked to him about the sequence of events, to separate the facts from his feelings," Hurdle said. "It's not like balls are ringing in the gaps or going to the walls against him. They're finding grass. It's time not to reinvent, not to refine. He's had a great deal of success until the last 72 hours."

Another new bullpen wrinkle was the availability of left-hander Justin Wilson, who had not pitched since Sept. 13, getting some planned rest. But Wilson entered in the eighth inning of Saturday's game to face Joey Votto with a runner on first and one out with the Pirates holding a two-run lead, and forced the Reds star to ground into a huge inning-ending double play.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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