The Pirates loaded the bases in the fifth and seventh innings Friday night and came up empty-handed both times. Starling Marte assured that wouldn't be the case in the eighth inning, launching his first career grand slam to left field and sending the Pirates to a 6-5 win over the Reds at Great American Ball Park.
Pittsburgh entered the eighth inning 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. The Bucs had stranded 11 runners and made enough mistakes on defense to let the Reds to build up a three-run lead. Then Ross Ohlendorf hit John Jaso with a pitch and walked Andrew McCutchen. David Freese loaded the bases with an infield single.
That brought up Marte, who crushed a 1-0 slider from J.J. Hoover, who replaced Ohlendorf, into the left-field stands. It was Marte's first grand slam and the Bucs' first home run of the season; they entered the night as one of only three Major League teams without a homer.
While handing the Reds their first loss of the season, the Pirates moved to 4-0 for the first time since the start of the 2003 season.
Brandon Phillips helped give Cincinnati a lead, homering and driving in two runs in his return to the lineup after missing two games with a stomach virus. Phillips returned to the cleanup spot Friday night and immediately greeted Pirates starter Francisco Liriano with a solo home run on the first pitch he saw. Phillips drove in another run in the third inning on a sacrifice fly to center field. Battling his command and frequently working out of trouble, Liriano allowed three runs on five hits and four walks over five innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Frankie at the bat: After falling behind 2-0 in the first inning, Liriano immediately cut the Pirates' deficit in half. Jordy Mercer singled with two outs and scored on Liriano's ground ball double down the right-field line. Liriano padded his hitting stats in the fourth with an opposite-field single. The lefty is 12-for-34 with three doubles, a homer and nine RBIs over his last 15 starts.
Zack on the spot: The Pirates had cut the Reds' lead to 3-2 in the fifth inning and had runners on first and second with one out when Josh Harrison hit a sharp grounder toEugenio Suarez at third base. Suarez booted it for his second error of the inning but Zack Cozart retrieved the carom and was able to catch Marte, who had rounded third too far off the bag, in time to tag him for the final out of the inning.