Credit is due and credit is given to the battered and oft-beaten Cincinnati Reds bullpen.
It was the bullpen that carried the Reds to a 5-1 victory Thursday night in the second game of a doubleheader, providing the Reds with a split.
With the grim season of the Reds bullpen, the last thing manager David Bell wanted was a bullpen day.
He was forced into Thursday and no doubt did it with fingers crossed on both hands.
And it worked.
Jeff Hoffman, Ross Detwiler, Robert Dugger, Reiver San Martin held the Pirates to one run and five hits.
Tyler Mahle was the schedule starter, but he lapsed onto the injured list Wednesday and Bell was forced into slicing the game into bullpen segms.
Hoffman started and gave up no runs and one hit in 1 2/3 innings. Detwiler gave up one run and two hits in one inning. Dugger gave up no runs and two hits in 3 2/3 innings. Sanmartin martin cleaned it up with no runs and no hits over 2 2/3 innings.
That bullpen quartet combined to strike out 12, with Sanmartin striking out two in the ninth inning.
And the tight and tidy pitching was needed because the score was 1-1 when the Reds came to bat in the seventh inning. With two outs and nobody on, they scored four runs after two crucial misplays by Pirates second baseman and former Red Josh VanMeter.
The Pirates grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third against Detwiler on a double by Ben Gamel and a two-out single by Daniel Vogelsbach, who was hitting .122 against left-handed pitching.
The Reds threatened often early in the game against Pirates starter Bryse Wilson, who began the game with a 1-4 record and a 7.49 earned run average.
They had a runner on second with one out in the first. They didn’t score.
They had a runner on second with one out in the second. They didn’t score.
They had runners on second and first with one out in the third. They didn’t score.
They put their leadoff man on first in the fourth. They didn’t score.
They finally broke through in the sixth without putting a man on base. With two outs, Tyler Naquin lined a 1-and-1 pitch into the right field bleachers to tie it, 1-1.
Second baseman Donovan Solano bobbled what would have been an inning-ending double play in the seventh. That put runners on third and first with two outs and Sanmartin struck out Ben Gamel to preserve the 1-1 tie.
VanMeter aided and abetted the Reds’ four-run uprising in the seventh. With two outs and nobody on, VanMeter booted an easy grounder hit by Nick Senzel.
Michael Papierski lofted a lazy fly that right fielder Gamel could have easily caught. But VanMeter flashed in front of him, distracting him, and the ball fell for a single.
Jonathan India poked a run-scoring single to right and the Reds led, 2-1.
Chris Stratton replaced Wilson and Brandon Drury lined one to right on which Gamel made a do-or-die dive. He died. The ball ripped past him for a two-run triple and a 4-1 Reds lead. Tommy Pham singled and it was 5-1.
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