Pirates lose to Reds, 2-1, in 13 innings

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CINCINNATI -- Brandon Phillips' walk-off single in the 13th inning sent the Pirates to a 2-1 loss Wednesday night against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.

Derrick Robinson reached on an infield single with one out. Shin-Soo Choo's single put runners on the corners, and Vin Mazzaro intentionally walked Joey Votto to load the bases.

Phillips' grounder up the middle scored the winning run.

The Pirates had men on base in the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th but could not drive them home.

Jay Bruce hit the first pitch he saw from closer Jason Grilli into the seats in right field in the ninth inning, tying the game at 1-1.

Grilli had converted each of his first 25 save chances. Grilli has now allowed runs in only four of his 35 appearances and had pitched in 11 consecutive games without allowing a run before Bruce's home run.

The Pirates remained in the game despite scoring just one run because of Jeff Locke. The 25-year-old lefthander has become one of the best starters in the National League through the first portion of the season.

Locke navigated a slew of Reds on the bases all evening. He prevented them from scoring with the help of his defense and kept the ball on the ground in the hitter-friendly ballpark, recording 11 ground-ball outs compared to one fly-ball out. He also got strikeouts when he needed them.

In almost a duplication of his previous outing, Locke pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed four hits, walking three and striking out three. He has not allowed a run in his last 14 innings and now has three streaks of at least two scoreless games in a row this season.

Locke lowered his ERA to 2.01

Entering the game, Locke's 2.19 ERA ranked fourth in the National League. Locke is part of a wave of young aces in the game. The five NL starters with the lowest ERA in the NL -- Clayton Kershaw, Shelby Miller, Matt Harvey, Locke and Patrick Corbin -- are all 25 or younger.

Locke walked a batter in each of the first three innings, extending his pitch count after three to 52, but each time he escaped.

The first three Reds batters reached base without a hit in the first. Derrick Robinson walked, Shin-Soo Choo reached on Garrett Jones' error and Joey Votto grounded into a force-out.

Brandon Phillips then hit into a double play, started by Pedro Alvarez at third, to end the inning.

Another narrow escape kept the game scoreless in the second. Zack Cozart walked with two outs and Ryan Hanigan doubled down the left-field line. Starling Marte played the ricochet and fired a perfect relay throw to Neil Walker. Walker hit Russell Martin at the plate just in time to nab Cozart for the final out.

After Robinson walked in the third, Locke caught Robinson stealing when he threw over to first.

Locke did not retire the side in order until the fifth inning.

The Pirates scored in the third inning. Marte tripled for the second consecutive game, this time with two outs. Bronson Arroyo could not handle Russell Martin's grounder back to the mound, and Marte scored, giving the Pirates the 1-0 lead.

A Reds misplay helped the Pirates load the bases in the sixth. Cozart trapped Alvarez's hard liner to short. He had time to throw Alvarez out at first, but held the ball up, pleading his case for a lineout. He didn't get the call, and Alvarez was safe.

Travis Snider's double put runners on second and third and Arroyo intentionally walked Jordy Mercer to bring Locke to the plate. Locke and Marte each grounded into force-outs to ensure the Pirates did not score.

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Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published June 20, 2013 3:45 AM


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