Pirates lose to Reds, 7-5, in Tuesday's regularly scheduled game

CINCINNATI -- For most of Tuesday night, Gerrit Cole worked out of trouble. In Cole's final inning, it was his counterpart who provided the coda.

Cole allowed two home runs in the sixth inning in a 7-5 loss against the Cincinnati Reds in the regularly scheduled game Tuesday. The Pirates beat the Reds, 8-7, in the conclusion of Monday's game, which was suspended due to rain.

Both games took place in weather more appropriate for a game in the Cincinnati Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium, just down the Ohio River, rather than Great American Ball Park. Snow flurries fell shortly before the 5:30 p.m. start of the suspended game and the temperature was 39 degrees at first pitch.

Cole (2-1) allowed five runs in six innings, four of them on the two home runs in the sixth. Two Reds runs in the seventh, both charged to Justin Wilson but with a helping hand from Jeanmar Gomez, prevented the Pirates' three runs in the seventh and eighth from drawing them even.

The five runs and two home runs allowed were the most Cole has allowed in a start in his short major league career. He used more off-speed pitches Tuesday than usual.

"I think he went with it because he felt he had a good one," manager Clint Hurdle said.

Reds starter Mike Leake inflicted the most damage on Cole. He doubled and scored in the third inning, and hammered his third career home run as the second-to-last batter Cole faced in the sixth.

Gaby Sanchez put the Pirates on the board in the second inning. Pedro Alvarez walked to lead off the inning and then stole second on what appeared to be a hit-and-run attempt, but the pitch to Russell Martin was in the dirt.

Martin struck out and Neil Walker grounded out, sending Alvarez to third. He scored on Sanchez's single.

Cole allowed runners on the corners with one out in the second, but a double play ended the threat. In the third, Cole would not have the same luck.

Leake led off with a double. Chris Heisey's sacrifice bunt sent Leake to third and Joey Votto's broken-bat single scored him to tie the score at 1-1.

With some help from the Reds defense, the Pirates took a lead in the fourth. Consecutive singles from Andrew McCutchen and Alvarez put runners on the corners. Martin grounded back to Leake, who, rather than try to eliminate McCutchen or get him in a rundown, wheeled to start a double play. His throw to second base was high and McCutchen scored.

Cole gave back the lead in the sixth. He walked Jay Bruce, who then stole second. He struggled to control the Reds on the bases and allowed three steals.

"Probably not the optimum release time we're looking for," Hurdle said.

Todd Frazier hit a line drive over the fence in right-center field for his fourth home run of the year, putting the Reds ahead, 3-2.

Devin Mesoraco singled and Zack Cozart reached on a fielder's choice that retired Mesoraco before Leake drove the ball into the seats in left field.

Neil Walker kept the game close with a two-run home run off Manny Parra in the eighth. It was Walker's fifth of the season and fifth career home run batting right-handed.

"Same guy you guys were all talking about how unsuccessful he was last year [batting right-handed]," Hurdle said of Walker. "It's just hard work. ... It's early, still a small sample size, but the swing's different, the swing's improved."

The Pirates broke a tie in the seventh inning before going on to win the suspended game earlier in the day.

Play resumed in the top of the seventh after the teams played to a 7-7 tie through six innings Monday night.

"It's somewhat of a different routine, but one thing that these men have been very good at is just taking on the next task at hand," Hurdle said. "This was the next task at hand."

McCutchen doubled with one out in the seventh against Reds reliever Sam LeCure. On the pitch before the double, McCutchen leaned backward away from a pitch up and in and appeared to tweak his back or side. Hurdle and head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk checked on McCutchen, but he stayed in the game.

McCutchen took third on a wild pitch and scored on Martin's single, giving the Pirates the lead.

Tony Watson allowed a runner to reach third in the seventh after a single, sacrifice bunt and groundout, but Watson struck out Brandon Phillips to strand the runner.

Mark Melancon worked the eighth and Jason Grilli recorded the save in the ninth.

"The game flipped a couple different times," Hurdle said. "We just pitched it the way we can pitch it to finish up with Watson and Melancon and Grilli. Big swing of the bat from Martin to drive in the plus-one."

Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published April 15, 2014 10:52 PM

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