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Bucs return to action to top Reds in homer-filled action

Martin provides go-ahead RBI single after suspended tilt resumes

CINCINNATI -- Home runs were so yesterday for the Pirates on Tuesday, when they completed a two-day 8-7 victory over the Reds on a simple four-hop grounder up the middle.

The bouncer came off Russell Martin's bat with two outs in the seventh -- the first inning in the resumption of a game suspended by rain after six with the teams tied, 7-7 -- and it scored Andrew McCutchen from third base.

When Jason Grilli was done with a 1-2-3 ninth for his fourth consecutive save conversion, the Pirates had a fifth consecutive victory in Great American Ball Park, reverting to last season.

Although, this was a little different. It definitely took a little longer. Yet, at the same time, it only took a typical Pirates effort.

"I like what we've done from the start of the season, and especially from the start of this game," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We just keep playing. The game flipped a couple of different times."

The Bucs also had a sixth victory in their MLB-high eighth one-run game.

"A big swing of the bat from Martin for the plus-one," said Hurdle, alluding to his one-more-run-than-the-other-guys mantra.

Minutes before Martin's winner, McCutchen had twisted away from an inside pitch from Sam LeCure, Cincinnati manager Bryan Price's choice to "start" the game, and was soon bent over in pain. The jerky movement in 39-degree weather caused McCutchen obvious discomfort but, after a trainer's visit, he stepped back into the batter's box.

The next pain was LeCure's: McCutchen smoked his next pitch into the left-field corner for a double, and moved to third on a wild pitch before trotting in on Martin's single.

This followed plenty of more traditional trotting the night before, when the teams combined to set a new record of 10 home runs at Great American Ball Park, six of them by the Bucs.

The 10 broke the record set on May 27, 2012, by the Rockies (five homers) and the Reds (four).

The record 10th was hit by Devin Mesoraco, in the sixth off Pirates reliever Bryan Morris -- who 17 hours later was still the pitcher of record when Martin delivered.

Morris went to 2-0, his earlier win having come on Opening Day, when Neil Walker delivered a 10th-inning homer to beat the Cubs, 1-0.

This time, Walker contributed two home runs to the effort, with Gaby Sanchez twice going back to back, in the second off Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey and again in the sixth off reliever J.J. Hoover.

In between, Bailey also served up consecutive fifth-inning homers to Starling Marte and Travis Snider.

Todd Frazier, Ryan Ludwick and Joey Votto had all struck two-run homers off left-hander Wandy Rodriguez.

But all that was Monday. The renewal on Tuesday brought a bullpens battle, so Price knew it would be different.

"It was a six-inning game yesterday and 14 runs were scored and you knew when it came down to the two bullpens, it was going to be completely the opposite," the Reds manager said. "We played three more innings and one run was scored, total. So it was really a tale of two completely different games."

And Hurdle had a sense it would be good for his side. Especially after Martin's go-ahead single put into motion the Pirates' venerable end-game shuttle: Tony Watson-to-Mark Melancon-to-Grilli.

Grilli was making his first appearance since Thursday.

How long ago was that? Pedro Alvarez left Chicago that day with an OPS of 1.027. Following the conclusion of this series' opener, that figure was down to .756. Alvarez, the team's leading power supply, had gone 0-for-5, yet the Pirates scored eight runs on 14 hits, six of them homers.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer.
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