Joey Votto reaches for 48th straight game, tying Rose’s Reds record
PITTSBURGH — Joey Votto reached base safely in his 48th straight game, matching a Cincinnati Reds record set by Pete Rose in 1978.
Votto’s team is on a different sort of streak.
Starling Marte’s two-run homer in the 12th inning gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a 6-4 victory Friday night that extended Cincinnati’s skid to 13 losses in a row, the club’s longest since 1945.
Like most enjoyable moments for the Reds this season, any gratification for Votto was soured by the bite of another loss. Near the end of a year in which his team owns the National League’s second-worst record, the slugger’s comment on the achievement consisted of three words: "I don’t care."
Votto singled in the third inning to equal Rose’s mark. He entered the game with MVP-quality numbers, batting .317 with 29 home runs, 142 walks and an NL-best .453 on-base percentage.
"It’s been a phenomenal season to watch," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It just would be nice to be celebrating some of those great performances with some wins at the end of the day."
Early on, the Reds appeared well on their way to victory before blowing a four-run cushion.
Cincinnati took a 2-0 lead on Eugenio Suarez’s two-run homer in the second. The lead doubled in the third when Jay Bruce hit an RBI double and Suarez singled another run home.
Keyvius Sampson held the Pirates hitless through three innings before Andrew McCutchen homered leading off the fourth.
Sampson worked into the sixth before the Pirates loaded the bases with no outs.
Tony Cingrani relieved and walked pinch-hitter Michael Morse to force in a run. Another run scored on Pedro Alvarez’s grounder, then Jordy Mercer tied it with an RBI single.
Sampson worked five-plus innings and gave up four runs and three hits. He walked two and struck out seven.
"I was just trying to go out there and keep us in the game," Sampson said. "(The hitters) went up there and got two runs early then we got a couple more tacked on. I was just trying to keep the lead and just be aggressive."
Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings with five strikeouts and no walks. Liriano raised his career-high strikeout total to 205, surpassing the 201 he had in 2010 with Minnesota.
Neither team scored again until the 12th, when Marte hit his 19th home run off Collin Balester (1-1) after the reliever issued a one-out walk to Gregory Polanco. Marte sent Balester’s first pitch into the first row of seats above the wall in right field.
"After he walked (Polanco), I was looking for him to throw a fastball on the first pitch," Marte said. "I knew he didn’t want to get behind in the count and I got the pitch I was looking for."
Arquimedes Caminero (5-1) pitched a scoreless inning for the win.
The Pirates (97-63) maintained a two-game lead over the Chicago Cubs for home-field advantage Wednesday night in the NL wild-card game. Pittsburgh can ensure the game is at PNC Park with a win in either of its two remaining games or one Cubs loss in Milwaukee.
Reds 2B Brandon Phillips was removed after he fouled a ball off his shin in the seventh. Ivan DeJesus Jr. replaced him on the bases after Phillips singled. Price said Phillips received treatment on his right ankle prior to the game and wasn’t sure about Phillips’ status for Saturday.
Reds: LHP Brandon Finnegan (4-2, 3.86 ERA) makes his fourth start for Cincinnati. He is 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA since moving into the rotation Sept. 18.
Pirates: RHP A.J. Burnett (9-6, 3.15) is 1-1 with a 3.68 ERA in four starts since being on the disabled list from July 31 to Sept. 9 with a strained flexor tendon in his right elbow. Burnett plans to retire at the end of this season, so this would likely be the last game of his 17-year career if the Pirates lose the wild-card game.