Reds end skid, dent Bucs' home-field hopes

Reds end skid, dent Bucs' home-field hopes

PITTSBURGH -- The Reds' 13 proved to be unlucky for the Pirates. As a result, the battle for home-field advantage in the National League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser is going down to the season's final day. Left-hander Brandon Finnegan muted the Pirates' bats Saturday to give Cincinnati a 3-1 win, ending the Reds' longest losing streak since 1945 at 13 straight.

The Pirates retain a one-game lead over the Cubs heading into Sunday's 162nd game. In the event of ending the regular-season deadlocked, the Cubs hold the tiebreaker by virtue of an 11-8 edge in head-to-head play, thus would host the Wild Card Game at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night at 8 ET.

Explaining possible tiebreakers for postseason

"We do hard. We have from the start of the season to tomorrow," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "We look forward to playing our last regular season game at home, to winning a ballgame and moving on."

In their hands: Bucs control Wild Card destiny

Helping spoil not only the Pirates' hopes of securing home-field rights for the Wild Card Game but also the final regular-season start of A.J. Burnett's career, Todd Frazier capped a two-run first with an RBI double and Adam Duvall added a solo homer in the seventh.

Frazier's RBI double

"A very, very solid effort," Hurdle lauded. "He did what he's done his whole career, go after people, be aggressive. He gave us a chance to win the ballgame."

Finnegan dominated the Pirates, holding them to three hits in a career-long six innings, striking out six while walking two. He had also been the last Cincinnati starter to win, in Milwaukee on Sept. 18.

Finnegan's strong start

"We've gone two weeks without this feeling," said Reds manager Bryan Price after his team's first win since Sept. 19. "It's been a not very enjoyable two weeks, I can tell you that. It feels good. I'll tell you this -- it doesn't matter how many you win, when you win it feels great, or how many you lose, when you win it feels great. At the end of the day, that's what we're all chasing at this level. It's not about feeling good at the end of a loss, it's about feeling good at the end of a win."

Earlier in the day, the Reds announced that Price would return for the 2016 season, the final year of his three-year contract.

Jocketty, Price on returning

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Votto's streak ends: Joey Votto's streak of reaching safely ended at 48 games, leaving him tied with Pete Rose for the franchise record. Votto, who began his streak on Aug. 11, went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Not all the outs went for naught, however. In the top of the first, Votto grounded out to second base, but Eugenio Suarez scored from third base on the play to give the Reds a 1-0 lead. Votto had the longest streak in the Majors since Kevin Millar reached in 52 straight games in 2007.

Votto's RBI groundout

Though surely unrelated to Burnett's part on ending his streak, Votto said, "What a fantastic career. It better be the end of it, I'm tired of facing him, and I mean that. But I like A.J., and he and I get along great. I said what I said because he and I get along well. I have a good time facing him." More >

Votto tips cap for Burnett

Is Votto #AwardWorthy? Vote now for Best Major Leaguer

Burnett bows out: Burnett overcame a rough first inning in his 430th start to pitch 6 2/3 solid innings -- his longest start since July 6 -- but absorbed his 157th loss rather than pick up his 165th win. He did post nine strikeouts, pushing his career total to 2,513, passing Christy Mathewson (2,507) for 31st place all time.

Burnett passes Mathewson

"Obviously, winning the game is the most important thing, and that's where I was at," said Burnett, who received a loud sendoff from the crowd of 34,180 when Hurdle came out to get him. "They changed that instantly the way they reacted. You could ask me a million times what it was like, and I couldn't describe it." More >

Burnett's standing ovation

Cut4: Burnett got a Bat-cycle and a hat-tip from Votto

Four-out save for Chapman: After Gregory Polanco hit a two-out single off of Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen in the eighth, closer Aroldis Chapman was summoned for a four-out save. Chapman first faced Andrew McCutchen and struck him out on a 2-2 fastball clocked at 100 mph. In the ninth, with one out, Chapman hit Starling Marte in the leg with a pitch but notched the final two outs for his 33rd save, and more importantly for the club, finally ended the long losing streak.

"I figured with two outs, and it didn't matter who was up, but in that situation it would be McCutchen," Price said. "We get there and you wait one hitter too long -- I have a lot of faith in Lorenzen, but you get one of the best pitchers in baseball in your bullpen ready to go. I didn't want to take that chance, I would have had regret. So I brought him in."

Chapman closes the door

QUOTABLE
"It's the guys in the locker room. The 25 guys in here are the reason I came back. You've got to start somewhere, and it's these guys. They've brought it out of me from Day 1. When you've got a city backing you, it's icing on the cake." -- Burnett, on why he enjoyed arguably three of the finest years of his career at its end, in Pittsburgh

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Finnegan provided the Reds with the rotation's first quality start since John Lamb on Sept. 21, and the second one since Sept. 12. Of the last 63 games started by a rookie, there have been only 20 quality starts.

"September has been a month of just bad luck," said Finnegan, who retired 16 of 18 after escaping first-inning trouble. "Nothing has been going our way, really. It felt good to finally have something come to our side."

• A loss Sunday would hand the Pirates' their third straight home series loss for the first time since September 2012, when they dropped sets to the Cubs, the Brewers and the Reds.

• The Reds' victory meant that the Phillies clinched the league's worst record to get the No. 1 pick in the 2016 Draft. Cincinnati is guaranteed to get the No. 2 selection.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the top of the eighth inning, with Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips on first base and one out, Pirates reliever Joe Blanton fired to first base for the pickoff. Phillips had leaned toward second base before diving back to the bag. The Reds challenged umpire Tim Welke's call, but it took only 45 seconds of replay for it to be confirmed.

Blanton throws Phillips out

WHAT'S NEXT
Reds: Cincinnati concludes its season Sunday at 3:05 p.m. ET, when Josh Smith takes the mound vs. Pittsburgh. He will extend the club's Major League record by being the 64th consecutive rookie pitcher to start a game, a record that very likely won't be broken any time soon. It took 113 years before Cincinnati broke the previous mark of 42.

Pirates: J.A. Happ will take the mound in the PNC Park portion of MLB's simultaneous last-day action, looking to nail down home-field advantage for Wednesday's 8 p.m. ET National League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser against the Cubs.

The game is available to stream free out of market on MLB.TV, presented by AT&T. Blackout restrictions apply.

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