Slumping Pirates lose 5-3 to Reds
CINCINNATI (AP) — A ground ball that deflects off the shortstop's glove for a double. A wild pitch that lets in one run, followed by an error that sends home another.
Just another bad night in a long run of them for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Mike Leake pitched seven innings, had a pair of hits and scored on a dash home off a wild pitch Tuesday, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-3 victory that shoved the Pirates another game further out of contention and another loss closer to that dreaded .500 mark.
The Pirates have lost five in a row and 22 out of 31, falling out of contention in the NL Central. They trail the Reds by a season-high 13 games.
The deep slump also has left them at risk of extending their unmatched streak of futility. The Pirates haven't had a winning record for the last 19 seasons, a record for a North American pro team. The loss on Tuesday dropped them to 72-69.
"We've had some opportunities," said Kevin Correia (10-9). "We're getting close. But we've got to just keep fighting. We're not on a good run right now, but it can very easily turn around with one game. I think everybody knows that."
Both teams were recovering from their 5-hour, 22-minute game on Monday night, won by the Reds 4-3 in 14 innings. This one came down to one sloppy inning.
Leake (8-9) gave up nine hits, including Alex Presley's solo homer and pinch-hitter Gaby Sanchez's two-run shot. Leake singled and eventually scored during a decisive three-run second inning aided by an error.
Brandon Phillips hit Correia's first pitch of the game for a homer and doubled home another run. Scott Rolen added a solo shot.
The NL Central leaders will get by the next few days without closer Aroldis Chapman, who has a tired pitching shoulder. He walked three of the five batters he faced on Monday night, when his velocity was down from 100 mph to the mid-90s.
Jonathan Broxton, acquired from Kansas City at the trade deadline, assumes the role. He pitched the ninth, allowing a hit, for his first save in three tries with the Reds. He had 23 saves with the Royals.
"This is an ongoing challenge for us," manager Clint Hurdle said of Pittsburgh's struggle on offense. "We're trying to find that good balance, but we haven't had it lately."
Before the game, Phillips talked to Pirates reliever Jared Hughes to ease hard feelings. Hughes hit Phillips with a pitch on Monday night, and Phillips got the ball and flipped it at the mound. Phillips thought he heard the reliever make a derogatory comment.
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