CINCINNATI -- Having apparently had his fill of the Pirates' offensive issues of late, Pedro Alvarez grabbed the reins Thursday.
Alvarez drove in all the Pirates' runs in their 5-3 win against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park, sending the Pirates to the west coast after splitting the four-game series.
Alvarez went 3 for 4 with a home run and a bases-clearing double that rescued an inning from becoming yet another example of the Pirates' inability to hit with men on base.
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Bryan Morris led off the seventh inning with the game tied, 2-2, and got his first major league hit. Starling Marte followed with a single.
Jordy Mercer then tried to bunt, but popped up to catcher Ryan Hanigan. Andrew McCutchen walked to load the bases. With Garrett Jones and Alvarez due up, Reds manager Dusty Baker followed protocol and brought in lefty Tony Cingrani.
Jones, who was 1 for 11 against lefties this season, struck out, bringing Alvarez, who hit .167 against lefties this year, to the plate with two outs. Alvarez lined a double to right, scoring three runs and giving the Pirates a 5-2 lead.
Alvarez twice tied the score, in third and sixth innings. In the third, McCutchen singled with two outs and took third on Jones' hit. Alvarez, batting fifth for the first time in two months, hit a two-out, two-strike single with a man in scoring position, tying the game at 1-1.
Alvarez hit his 16th homer in the sixth against Homer Bailey to tie the game at 2-2.
Tony Watson earned a two-inning save in place of Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon, who were not available Thursday.
Brandon Cumpton held his own against the Reds, allowing two runs, one earned, in five innings. He made one glaring mistake, a hanging slider to Jay Bruce. The other run he allowed resulted from an error, a stolen base and a single.
No sooner had the game started than opportunity presented itself to the Pirates' lineup. Starling Marte doubled to begin the game and stole third. With one out, Homer Bailey then hit McCutchen with a 3-2 changeup to put runners on the corners, but Jones and Alvarez struck out.
The Reds took advantage of their first-inning opportunity. Shin-Soo Choo reached on an error, stole second and scored on Joey Votto's single. Before Votto hit the single, Cumpton threw a fastball behind him.
Bruce, who tied Wednesday night's game with a home run, broke the 1-1 tie in the fourth. He hit a 3-2 hanging slider to dead center field for his 15th home run, giving the Reds a 2-1 lead.mobilehome - homepage - breaking - pirates
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG First Published June 20, 2013 8:00 PM