Reds 2, Pirates 1
CINCINNATI (AP) _ Age has diminished Terry Pendleton’s skills and playing time, but not his appreciation for drama.
Pendleton came off the bench and hit a tiebreaking double in the seventh inning as the Cincinnati Reds came from behind for a second consecutive game and beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 Wednesday night.
Pendleton, a part-time player at age 36, enjoyed the chance to get perhaps his biggest hit for Cincinnati, which signed him as a free agent last January. The one-out double completed a two-run rally off Pirates starter Esteban Loaiza (5-3).
``I want to be at the plate with runners in scoring position and the game on the line,″ said Pendleton, a .241 hitter who was only 2-for-13 as a pinch hitter before the double. ``I’ve always been that way and I haven’t changed.″
One thing stayed constant for the Pirates as they got swept during the two-game series: Their pitching staff couldn’t hold the Reds in the late innings.
``Just like last night, everything went their way,″ said Loaiza, who gave up only three hits over the first six innings before faltering in the seventh.
Pittsburgh wasted a five-run lead on Tuesday night, when Cincinnati scored four runs in the eighth for an 8-5 win, its biggest comeback of the season. The loss Wednesday was Pittsburgh’s third in a row, dropping the Pirates below .500 (31-32).
The Pirates have led the NL Central for most of the last two weeks, something no one expected from the lowest payroll in the major leagues.
``Hopefully we can keep our head above water and see what happens,″ manager Gene Lamont said.
The Reds got their fifth victory in six games overall by getting to Loaiza after Lamont let the pitcher hit with a runner at second and two out in the top of the seventh inning. He struck out for the third time.
Lamont had no one warming up in the bullpen at the time and no thought of pinch hitting.
``Loaiza was fine. I don’t think he ran out of gas,″ Lamont said. ``In the seventh inning he just threw some bad pitches _ hanging breaking balls, it looked like.″
Hal Morris started the rally with a single _ only the fourth hit off Loaiza _ and took third on Bret Boone’s double to left-center. Joe Oliver’s sacrifice fly tied the game 1-1, and Pendleton drove in the second run with a double to the warning track in center over the head of Adrian Brown, who was playing shallow.
Brett Tomko (2-1) gave up four hits over seven innings to win his third major-league start. Tomko, 24, has allowed only four runs and 13 hits in his three starts, covering 19 innings.
Asked if he was amazed by his success, Tomko said: ``Amazed? In some ways, yes. You always have doubts. I like to think of myself as working hard and trying to be the best that I can be.
``I guess it is amazing to be at this level and able to get people out consistently. I’m amazed that I haven’t given up 10 home runs.″
Jeff Shaw got the last four outs for his 12th save in 13 chances. Shaw will be the Reds’ closer for the next couple of months while Jeff Brantley recovers from Wednesday’s shoulder surgery.
Tomko held the Pirates hitless until the fifth, when they scored their only run on a collision at home plate.
Mark Johnson walked with one out and went to second on Jose Guillen’s line-drive single to right, the Pirates’ first hit. Dale Sveum then singled to right and Lenny Harris’ throw beat Johnson to the plate.
Johnson ran into Joe Oliver’s extended left arm and the force of the impact knocked the ball out of the catcher’s mitt for an instant, leaving Johnson safe for a 1-0 lead.
Notes: Pittsburgh’s Jason Kendall was hit by a pitch for the second consecutive game. The Pirates have been plunked in six of the last seven games and lead the majors with 42 hit batters. ... The Reds have hit 38 batters, also the most in the major leagues. ... Sveum made his sixth start at shortstop but his first since May 31. ... Brantley had arthroscopic surgery on his pitching shoulder and will be out for two to three months. Doctors repaired a tear in the shoulder capsule and cleaned up minor damage. ... Reds manager Ray Knight has decided to keep Curtis Goodwin in center field _ his natural position _ and move Deion Sanders to left.