Bailey strong but Reds’ bats weak
CINCINNATI (AP) — Since he threw his second no-hitter, Homer Bailey hasn’t been a winner. His latest loss wasn’t hard to figure.
One infield single won’t get anyone very far.
Jeff Locke allowed only an infield hit through six innings and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat Bailey to salvage the final game of their series with the Cincinnati Reds, 3-2 on Sunday.
Second-place Pittsburgh left town with a three-game cushion over the NL Central-rival Reds, who won the first two games of the series.
Bailey (5-9) struck out a career-high 12 but fell to 0-3 since his no-hitter against San Francisco at Great American Ball Park this month. Garrett Jones hit his second homer in two games, and the Pirates added a pair of runs in the seventh on hits that were barely out of the reach of second baseman Brandon Phillips.
So it goes.
“Homer was dealing,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s why I left him out there. He was still throwing hard in the seventh. It’s kind of rough when you’re throwing the ball like that and you can’t get any hits.”
The Pirates thought Bailey was even better than when he no-hit them last season at PNC Park.
“That was the best I’ve ever seen Bailey,” Jones said. “His velocity was up, his cutter was nasty and he was hitting his spots well.”
The Pirates managed to get a couple of hits in the seventh that made the difference.
“That was probably the most frustrating thing,” Bailey said. “I made some good pitches. It just didn’t work out. The game of inches got to me.”
Locke (9-2) and the majors’ second-stingiest bullpen limited the Reds to three singles, but issued seven walks and let a run score on a wild pitch. Jason Grilli worked the ninth for his 30th save in 31 chances. His only blown save came in Cincinnati on June 19.
Locke had to miss his last scheduled start and couldn’t pitch in the All-Star game because of a sore back. There were no problems when he got back on the mound.
The Ohio River rivals don’t meet again until September, when they play each other six times in the last nine games. Both hope they have a lot at stake when they get back together — the Reds trying for a second straight division title, the Pirates trying to end their 20-year streak of losing records and make the playoffs for the first time since 1992.
They came away from their weekend series bunched a bit closer in their chase of first-place St. Louis.
Bailey threw the first of his two no-hitters last Sept. 28 in Pittsburgh, a 1-0 win over a team he has dominated during his career. He threw his second no-hitter on July 2. Since then, he’s started three games — two on the road — and lost all of them with a 5.50 ERA.
Locke’s performance was encouraging for the Pirates, who have stayed in contention despite injuries in the rotation. Shin-Soo Choo’s infield single in the first inning extended his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games.
Locke walked a pair and threw a wild pitch that let in a run in the fifth inning. The left-hander lowered his ERA to 2.11.
The Reds got another run in the eighth when Joey Votto grounded into a double play with the bases loaded against Mark Melancon, ending the reliever’s streak of 15 scoreless innings. It was Cincinnati’s best chance to pull off the three-game sweep.
“It hurts when you have opportunities like that,” Baker said. “You hope you’re going to blow it open.”
Pittsburgh scored twice in the seventh on Jordy Mercer’s single and Jose Tabata’s pinch-hit single off Bailey, who threw 121 pitches.
NOTES: The Pirates continue their 10-game trip with the first of four games in Washington. The Reds begin an 11-game trip to San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. They’re in a stretch of playing 18 of 21 on the road. … Bailey fanned 10 during his no-hitter in Pittsburgh and nine during his no-hitter against the Giants. … The Reds plan to call up RHP Greg Reynolds from Triple-A Louisville to start one of their doubleheader games in San Francisco on Tuesday. Reynolds, a California native who played at Stanford, started 16 games for Colorado in 2008 and 2011.
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