PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh second baseman Cole Tucker made a spectacular diving catch, then hit his first career grand slam to cap an eight-run rally in the eighth inning that sent the Pirates over the Cincinnati Reds 9-2 on Friday night.
Tucker’s slam off Dauri Moreta came a night after the Pirates lost their 100th game of the season. Tucker also tripled to lead off the bottom of the first inning and scored the game’s first run.
The grand slam might have been just Tucker’s second-best highlight of the night after his fielding gem in the seventh.
Tucker raced into short right field and snagged Tucker Barnhart’s popup with his back to home plate. Tucker quickly rose to his feet and made a strong throw to first base to double up Eugenio Suarez and end the inning to preserve the Pirates’ 1-0 lead.
“You’re not going to see a better play than that. It was unbelievable,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “I didn’t think Tuck had any chance at that. When he made it, it was like ‘holy cow, that’s a helluva play.’”
So, what did Tucker enjoy more, the grand slam or the web gem?
“I think in the moment the double play because I didn’t think I had any chance of making the play,” Tucker said. “But grand slams are cool, too. I’ve never had one of those (in the major leagues). That’s a tough question. I haven’t seen the highlights yet. I’ll have a different opinion once I talk to my family.”
The Reds, who have lost three games in a row, tied it at 1 in the top of the eighth inning when Max Schrock hit an RBI single with two outs.
The Pirates scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning when Michael Lorenzen threw a wild pitch with the bases loaded and one out. Kevin Newman followed with a two-run single, Hoy Park delivered an RBI single and Tucker homered into the right-field stands.
Newman and Anthony Alford had three hits apiece for Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh rookie Wil Crowe allowed only one hit, a third-inning single by pitching counterpart Luis Castillo, in six scoreless innings but wound up with a no-decision. The right-hander set down his final 12 batters while finishing with a career high-tying nine strikeouts and two walks.
“That’s the best we’ve seen him,” Shelton said. “He was unbelievable all night long.”
Castillo gave up one run in 5 1/3 innings. He went 2-5 in his last eight starts of the season despite posting a 2.80 ERA in that span.
“I felt really good and I’m happy with the results,” said Castillo, who has an 8-16 record. “I’ve always said it’s not how you start but how you finish. I had a lot of things I had to change early in the season, but I kept a good mindset and it turned out to be a good season.
Amir Garrett (0-4) began the eighth inning and took the loss as he retired only one of the three batters he faced. Chris Stratton (7-1) added to his team lead in wins despite allowing Schrock’s tying hit.
Cincinnati scored a run with two outs in the ninth inning on Jose Barrero’s triple.
AS THE CROWE FLIES
With 25 starts, Crowe became the first Pirates rookie to lead the team in that category in a season since Josh Fogg tied Kip Wells in 2002. The last rookie to have the outright lead was Bill Werle in 1949.
“This year has been a lot of growing, learning things about myself, how to get through lineups in the big leagues,” Crowe said. “It’s good to go out on a high note. I know I belong (in the major leagues) and my stuff plays.”
The Pirates recalled reliever Shea Spitzbarth from Triple-A Indianapolis for the fourth time this season and optioned rookie right-hander Miguel Yajure to the same club. Yajure was rocked for seven runs in two innings in a loss to the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night.
Reds: SS Kyle Farmer was scratched from the lineup because of left abdominal soreness. He has either an intercostal or oblique strain and is expected to miss the final two games of the season. Barrero started at shortstop after originally being slated to play center field while OF TJ Friedl started in center.
RHP Tyler Mahle (13-6, 3.54) will pitch for the Reds on Saturday night against rookie RHP Max Kranick (2-3, 6.23). Mahle is 8-2 with a 1.85 ERA in 17 road starts this season. Kranick pitched five shutout innings to win at Philadelphia on Sunday.
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