Monday, May 28, 2012

Pirates cool off red-hot Reds behind strong outing by McDonald

Cincy couldn't figure out ole' McDonald on Monday

The NL Central-leading Reds (27-21) strolled into the Steel City on Monday as arguably the hottest team in all of baseball. However, you certainly wouldn't have thought that after watching the pesky Pirates (24-24) down them by a tally of 4-1 on a steamy affair at PNC Park.

Pittsburgh starter James McDonald (4-2) dazzled in eight innings of work to lift his lifetime record over Cincinnati to 5-1 while teammate Pedro Alvarez (2-4, 2 RS, 2 2B, RBI) provided the supporting offense.

Here's the good, the bad and the notables from the Memorial Day doozy at PNC:

The Good:
- Ryan Hanigan smacked a couple of hits in three at-bats including his fifth double of the year. He's currently hitting at a .320 clip.
- Chris Heisey kept the boys from being shutout with an RBI single that scored Joey Votto in the ninth.
- Alfredo Simon continues to make GM Walt Jocketty look like the smartest guy in the baseball world (and the Baltimore Orioles GM as the dumbest). He pitched three innings of scoreless relief, thus lowering his 2012 ERA to 1.74.
- Not to be outdone by his peer, rookie J.J. Hoover pitched a perfect frame in the eighth himself.

The Bad:
- There's a loss and then there's a loss to the Pirates. Not only did the Reds achieve the latter, but they lost a game in the standings as well. The Cardinals are now just a half game back after drubbing Atlanta, 8-2, earlier in the day.
- Brandon Phillips, Drew Stubbs and Wilson Valdez were all hitless in four trips to the dish. The latter two were retired via strikes on two occasions a piece.
- Bronson Arroyo lasted only four innings after getting kicked around for eight hits and four runs. As Chris Welsh pointed out on the radio broadcast, it just didn't appear that Arroyo had his stuff working today.
- The Reds' woes with RISP continue as the offense was just 1-8.
- Dusty Baker's bunch has now lost 12 of their previous 19 games versus the Pirates dating back to the beginning of 2011.

The Notables:
- A sparse crowd of 14,792 labored through 87-degree heat to watch their Buccos plunder the Redlegs.
- The Reds shot up six places to 7th in ESPN's latest MLB Power Rankings released on Monday.
- Prior to today's game, Cincy was tied with the LA Dodgers for the best record in MLB since April 19 (23-12).
- Up next: The two NL Central foes square off for game two of the series beginning at 7:05et on Tuesday. Both teams will trot out a pair of right hander's in Homer Bailey (3-3, 4.19) for the Reds and Charlie Morton (2-5, 4.27) for the Bucs.

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