Votto's walk-off caps long night for Reds vs. Bucs

Votto's walk-off caps long night for Reds vs. Bucs

CINCINNATI -- An RBI single by Joey Votto in the bottom of the 11th inning was the difference maker in the Reds' 5-4 victory over the Pirates as Wednesday night turned into Thursday morning. Cincinnati has taken the first two games of the three-game series.

In the bottom of the 11th with one out, the Pirates' last pitcher left in the bullpen, Radhames Liz, hit Zack Cozart with a pitch and walked Billy Hamilton with two outs. Votto came up next and lined his hit into right field, scoring a sliding Cozart ahead of Gregory Polanco's throw to the plate.

"We were joking before the game, when you have a rain delay like this, of course a game like this happens when you're playing for like seems forever," Cozart said. "You want to come away with the win. You don't want to stand out there and play your butts off and walk off the field losing."

The game's first pitch was delayed two hours and 34 minutes by thunderstorms and did not begin until 9:44 p.m. ET. It ended four hours and one minute later.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Basepath Houdini does it again: Impossibly avoiding two rundowns brought Josh Harrison as much celebrity as anything last season. Harrison was up to his old tricks to get the Bucs a run in the fifth. He was running from second as Andrew McCutchen hit a grounder to third baseman Todd Frazier, who fielded the ball right in Harrison's tracks. Harrison collapsed to avoid the tag attempt and prevent a double play, and he soon scored the run that made it 3-3 on Neil Walker's sacrifice fly.

Walker's sacrifice fly

Cole puts his foot down: Some have been wondering when Gerrit Cole will be ready to step up as the Pirates' ace. It might have happened in the fifth inning. With fleet Hamilton on second with the potential lead run and none out, following a single and steal, Cole fanned through the meat of the Reds' order, striking out Votto swinging and Frazier looking. Devin Mesoraco was also rung up on a called third strike after Hamilton stole third base. More >

Cole fans Mesoraco

Billy ball: Hamilton reached base four times as he went 3-for-5 with a walk. He reached in each of his final four plate appearances, beginning in the fifth inning. Hamilton also stole three bases, making him 4-for-4 in steals through the first two games.

Hamilton steals three bases

"A lot of good things can happen when he's on base that often. It just sets a tone for us," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He's just a real pain in the butt for anybody that has to pitch with him on base."

Leake leaks three leads: Reds starter Mike Leake's 5 2/3-inning 2015 debut certainly wasn't as sharp as he would have liked. Leake threw 107 pitches, with 56 strikes and 51 balls, and he walked six, including two intentionally. While allowing three earned runs, he gave up three different leads when he surrendered the tying run in the second, fourth and fifth innings.

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS:

When he worked two scoreless innings for the victory, Reds reliever J.J. Hoover snapped his personal 10-game losing streak from last season. Hoover won his first decision of 2014 and did not win another game. More >

WHAT'S NEXT

Pirates: A.J. Burnett formally begins his last go-around in the afternoon finale of the series in Cincinnati, making the first start of what he has declared will be his final season. He blanked the Yankees for six innings in his final Spring Training start.

Reds: One of the players to arrive in the trade that sent Mat Latos to Miami, Anthony DeSclafani will make his Reds debut on Thursday afternoon. DeSclafani posted a 3.64 ERA in his seven Spring Training starts. It will be DeSclafani's sixth career Major League start. First pitch is a very quick turnaround at 12:35 p.m. ET.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.