CINCINNATI (AP) – Jordy Mercer singled home the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning Wednesday night, rallying the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 5-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in an NL Central rivalry game full of plunkings and ejections.
Andrew McCutchen, David Freese, Jung Ho Kang and Josh Harrison each hit solo homers, and the Pirates got their first lead on Mercer’s single off Ross Ohlendorf (3-4). Pittsburgh gained a split of the rain-shortened, two-game series.
Tony Watson (1-0) retired the side in the eighth. Mark Melancon gave up a single and a walk in the ninth while getting his 10th save in 11 chances.
Six batters were hit – four Pirates, two Reds – as the teams extended their history of plunkings. Over the last four seasons, the Reds have hit 43 Pirates batters (10 this season) and the Pirates have hit 41 Reds (five this season). It’s the most of any series in the majors over that span.
The last time four Pirates were hit in a game was Sept. 7, 2008, at San Francisco.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and left fielder Starling Marte were ejected during a dispute over a call at second base in the sixth inning. Ohlendorf was ejected for hitting Freese in the ninth, along with Reds manager Bryan Price.
The Pirates managed only four hits in the first eight innings, all of them homers. Harrison’s second homer off Tony Cingrani tied it 4-4 in the eighth. Both of his homers have come against Cincinnati.
McCutchen’s homer in the fourth inning was his 26th career homer against Cincinnati, his most against any team. He also homered during the All-Star Game at Great American Ball Park last July.
Four batters after McCutchen’s homer, Alfredo Simon hit Kang with a pitch. In the bottom of the inning, Juan Nicasio hit Brandon Phillips in the upper leg with his first pitch, drawing loud boos from the crowd of 14,694 and a warning to both benches from plate umpire Jeff Kellogg. Jay Bruce followed with his opposite-field homer that tied Adam Dunn’s career record of 126 at Great American Ball Park.
Pittsburgh’s Marte and Sean Rodriguez and Cincinnati’s Adam Duvall later were nicked by pitches, but there were no ejections until Ohlendorf in the ninth.
Marte was called safe while trying to steal second base in the sixth inning, but the decision was overturned on review. Hurdle was ejected while arguing the decision, and Marte was ejected while heading out to his position.
After a day off today, the Pirates will open a weekend series at Wrigley Field against the first-place Cubs on Friday.