PITTSBURGH -- Every loss at this point puts a dent in the Pirates' postseason aspirations, and the Reds were all too pleased to provide the latest ding. It came in the top of the ninth inning, when Jose Peraza's sacrifice fly gave Cincinnati a hard-fought, 4-3 victory over Pittsburgh on Friday at PNC Park.
The Pirates had battled back from three one-run deficits of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2, but they were unable to find one more comeback in the tank in the bottom of the ninth. Raisel Iglesias, who blew the lead in the eighth, hit the first two batters -- David Freese and Francisco Cervelli -- with pitches and both runners were moved into scoring position on Jordy Mercer's sacrifice bunt. But Iglesias escaped to get the victory, snapping Cincinnati's five-game losing streak. Meanwhile, the Pirates have lost nine of their last 11 games to fall to five games back in the National League Wild Card standings.
"We have not shown the ability to play to the level of what our skill set is on offense," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We still have complicated things."
In the top of the ninth against Tony Watson, Eugenio Suarez hit a leadoff single to left field and advanced on Ramon Cabrera's sacrifice bunt. It appeared third baseman Jung Ho Kang had a potential play at second base, but he opted for the sure out at first base. It proved key, as a Tyler Holt single to short right field put Suarez on third base, allowing him to score easily on Peraza's sac fly to left field.
"It just shows that we don't give up," said Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, who provided a lead with a sixth-inning homer. "We try to win every game. We've been in a lot of games, but we just don't finish. But today we really finished that, and it shows we still have heart and we're not giving up. Even though we're not going to do anything this year, it's still in our heads that you want to finish strong, go out and win the game and try to get as many wins as possible."
Iglesias relinquished the 3-2 lead in the eighth after two hits to begin the inning culminated in Andrew McCutchen's sacrifice fly, scoring Josh Harrison with the tying run.
Reds starter Tim Adleman gave up two runs and seven hits over his six innings with two walks and no strikeouts. He also was 2-for-2 at the plate with a double and a run scored in the third inning and an RBI single in the fourth off of Pirates starter Steven Brault that made it a 2-1 game. Josh Bell's RBI groundout in the fifth evened the game.
Brault pitched five innings and gave up two earned runs and five hits and was lifted after throwing 76 pitches. He remains winless in five big league starts.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Phillips digs PNC Park: It was a 2-2 game in the sixth inning when Phillips led off and pulled Jared Hughes' 2-2 slider into the left-field seats. Phillips has 10 homers, and the solo shot was his first since Aug. 28. It was also the 11th career home run that Phillips has hit at PNC Park, which ranks him eighth among Pirates opponents. He's been a problem for Pittsburgh this season, batting .333 (16-for-48) with four homers and 10 RBIs.
"It felt good. I was just trying to look for a ball up, and he kept the ball down the whole at-bat," Phillips said. "He did a good job. I stayed in the at-bat, hoping he would leave something up. He left me a cookie, and I took advantage of it."
"I shook off Cervelli to go to the slider," Hughes said. "I hung back out of it and it was a bad pitch, and Phillips is a very good hitter, a very experienced hitter and he did what he should've with it."
Baserunning gaffes: The Pirates struggled against Adleman, who limited them to two runs. Careless baserunning helped Adleman, as he picked off Gregory Polanco at second base in the second inning and Kang at first in the sixth. The Pirates have had 17 baserunners picked off this season. For Adleman, he tied a Reds club record by picking off two in one game. The last pitcher to do that for the team was Johnny Cueto on June 28, 2012, at San Francisco. More >
Mercer shines: Mercer was a bright spot in a tough offensive evening for the Pirates. He had two base hits, scored two runs and continued his solid defensive play at shortstop.
Iglesias not feeling sharp: Feeling he didn't get quite warmed up enough in the bullpen, Iglesias lacked sharpness when he took the mound in the bottom of the eighth. He took a 1.18 ERA into the game since moving to the bullpen on June 20 and was charged with his first blown save of the season.
"It was a tough first inning for me," Iglesias said via translator Julio Morillo. "When I came out of the bullpen, I wasn't 100 percent ready. I feel happy because we won the game, but I'm not feeling happy with the job that I did today. I know I can do better than I did today. So, it's that type of night. Sometimes you come out of the bullpen and things don't work. Thank God we won the game, that's the most important thing."
"I was just up there a couple times and got some pitches out over the plate that I was able to handle. I got the barrel to it, and fortunately it worked out for us. A couple big spots where we needed a run here and there, and it worked out. ... I'm just glad that tonight the two hits that I did get played a role in us winning the game -- Adleman
Thinking he might have beaten the throw, the Reds challenged the out call at first base when Adam Duvall grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play in the top of the third inning. Upon review, it was determined that umpire Lance Barrett's call stood.
WHAT'S NEXT Reds: Rookie Robert Stephenson will get the start on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET in the third game of the series. In his return to the big leagues vs. the Mets on Monday, Stephenson allowed two runs over 5 1/3 innings, both on solo homers. He walked just one batter with nine strikeouts while showing improved command from his season in Triple-A.
Pirates: Right-hander Drew Hutchison (1-0, 4.97 ERA with Toronto) will make his first appearance with the Pirates. He went 7-6 with a 3.59 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 25 Minor League games between Buffalo and Indianapolis.