Pirates postpone losing season with 2-1 win against Reds

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Andrew McCutchen hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Pirates a 2-1 win against the Cincinnati Reds Saturday night at PNC Park.

The win postponed the Pirates' 20th consecutive losing season, which they will clinch with their 82nd loss. The Pirates (77-81) must win their final four games to finish at exactly .500 and end their streak of 19 consecutive losing seasons.

The Pirates won in September for only the seventh time.

McCutchen hit his 31st home run. The Pirates walked off for the seventh time this season, the third time with a home run, and McCutchen hit his third walk-off home run.

The game remained scoreless until the seventh, when the Pirates finally scored, but the Reds tied the game in the eighth.

The Pirates finally broke the scoreless tie in the seventh inning. Clint Barmes singled and went to second when Jose Arredondo threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt. Brock Holt's bunt moved Barmes to third, where Chase d'Arnaud pinch-ran for him. Alex Presley doubled to left-center field to drive in a run and give the Pirates a 1-0 lead.

The Reds tied the score in the eighth after pinch-hitter Ryan Ludwick's leadoff double off Jason Grilli. Pinch-runner Denis Phipps went to third on a sacrifice bunt, but Zack Cozart struck out. Grilli intentionally walked Joey Votto with two outs to face Scott Rolen, who singled home a run.

Michael McKenry walked with two outs in the eighth. Jose Tabata hit a grounder to the left side of the infield, and Cozart's throw from the hole got away from first baseman Todd Frazier, allowing McKenry to reach third. Jordy Mercer walked to load the bases for Starling Marte, but Marte popped out to end the inning.

Kyle McPherson assembled the best of his three starts. He allowed two ground-ball singles to start the game, but did not allow another hit until the fifth.

McPherson lasted 4 1/3 innings in each of his first two starts this season. He allowed two runs on seven hits in the first outing, four runs on four hits and three walks in the second. His 94 pitches surpassed his previous high of 83, which he threw Monday against the New York Mets.

McPherson displayed the stuff that has the Pirates considering him for next season's starting rotation. Manager Clint Hurdle has said that McPherson will have the chance to compete for the job in spring training, and there appear to be openings in the five rotation spots for 2013.

McPherson allowed four hits and a walk in six scoreless innings, striking out five.

After those two singles in the first, Votto grounded out, advancing the runners to second and third. Rolen popped out, and with Jay Bruce at the plate, pitching coach Ray Searage went out to visit McPherson.

Bruce grounded out to short, ending the inning.

The Pirates could not accomplish much against Mike Leake through the first six innings. They had the bases loaded in the second, but Presley grounded out to end the inning. Two singles put two men on in the sixth, but McKenry flied out.

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Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG.


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