Garrett Jones is a level-headed guy. Even he gets mad sometimes.
He was upset when he stepped into the batters’ box in the eighth inning Sunday after striking out with runners on second and third in his previous at-bat. Jones then unleashed his anger by hitting a 463-foot game-tying home run.
Travis Snider then hit an RBI single with two outs in the 11th inning and the Pirates, boosted by a stellar effort from its bullpen, beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-4.
Five Pittsburgh relievers combined for 10 scoreless innings. Starter Jeanmar Gomez was removed with tightness in his right forearm after giving up four runs in the first.
Jones’ drive off Jonathan Broxton cleared the right-field stands and reached the Allegheny River on the fly. It was just the second homer to make it into the river without bouncing and the first by a Pirates’ hitter. Daryle Ward hit the first on July 6, 2002, while playing for Houston.
It was Jones’ sixth home run of the season, but first since May 10.
“It was a swing of anger,” Jones said. “I haven’t been getting many big hits lately and I put everything I had into that swing. It felt pretty good. I wasn’t expecting to hit the ball in the river, which was pretty cool, but it was great to come through and give us a chance to win.”
Broxton said he tried to throw a cut fastball on the inner half of the plate
“He got to it in a hurry and it went a long, long ways,” Broxton said.
Reds shortstop Zack Cozart made a throwing error on Russell Martin’s one-out grounder in the 11th. After Pedro Alvarez walked, Jordy Mercer flied out before Snider then dropped a single into right-center off Alfredo Simon (4-2).
“I put Simon in trouble,” Cozart said. “I just threw it high. It was a bad play.”
Snider said the Pirates never felt out of it, even when they had to go to the bullpen in the second inning down 4-2.
That’s been the story of the year for us — the bullpen, starting staff has really been picking us up and given us opportunities late in games to win ballgames,” said Snider, who entered the game in the ninth inning as a pinch hitter. “So anytime you can return that favor to them it’s a special one.”
Alvarez also homered for Pittsburgh. Snider and Andrew McCutchen had two hits each.
Gomez left after allowing four hits, walked one and hitting a batter. Vin Mazzaro and Bryan Morris each worked three innings, Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli went one each and Wilson finished.
The Pirates bullpen led the major leagues with a 2.67 ERA.
“We got huge innings out of everyone,” Wilson said. “It was unbelievable. It’s unfortunate Gomey had to leave the game early but it was just a great job and collective effort by the bullpen.”
Cincinnati starter Mat Latos, who was looking to improve to 6-0, was the victim of a blown save for the fourth time this season. He got a no-decision after allowing two runs and three hits in six innings with seven strikeouts.
Manager Dusty Baker lifted Latos after 94 pitches and would like to see him build more stamina.
“He threw the ball well, but he hit that wall again,” Baker said. “He’s got to get over that wall and get past the 90-100 pitch mark. He’s bigger and stronger than that. That’s quite a few victories that got away from him.”
Cozart and Todd Frazier each had two hits for Cincinnati.
Cozart drove in the game’s first run with a triple after leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo was hit by a pitch. Jay Bruce and Xavier Paul then hit RBI singles and Devin Mesoraco capped the four-run first inning with a sacrifice fly.
Latos hit Neil Walker with two outs in the bottom of the first inning and both teams were issued a warning by plate umpire Bob Davidson. Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips, who entered the day with an NL-leading 45 RBIs, was hit twice in the series and got a bruised left forearm Saturday that caused him to miss Sunday’s game.
While the relievers held the Reds in check, Alvarez hit his 11th home run in the second inning and McCutchen singled in a run in the sixth to draw the Pirates within 4-2 before Jones tied it and Snider won it.
“We did just enough to win the game and I can’t give enough credit to the job that Morris, Mazzaro, Melancon, Grilli and Wilson at the end, what they were able to do, 10 scoreless innings,” Hurdle said. “That’s quite, quite a feat.”
NOTES: Baker said he expects Phillips to miss the three-game home series with Colorado that begins Monday night. RHP Bronson Arroyo (5-5, 3.75) is scheduled to pitch the series opener for the Reds against RHP Tyler Chatwood (3-0, 2.12). ... INF Cesar Izturis started in Phillips’ place and went 0-for-5. ... Pittsburgh RHP James McDonald (right shoulder discomfort) will have his injury rehab assignment moved to Triple-A Indianapolis and start Thursday after making two stars for Double-A Altoona. ... The Pirates open a three-game series at Atlanta on Monday night with RHP A.J. Burnett (3-5, 2.72) facing RHP Kris Medlen (1-6, 3.48).
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