PITTSBURGH -- The only thing between Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon and a no-hitter against the Reds on Sunday was their own pitcher, Tyler Mahle. In a grim afternoon at PNC Park for Cincinnati, it was Mahle's third-inning single that amounted for the only hit vs. Taillon in a quiet 5-0 loss that moved the Reds' record to 2-6.
It wasn't a good day on the mound for Mahle, however, as he gave up four runs in the bottom of the fifth to speed his exit. But that wasn't close to the worst thing that happened to the Reds in the game. That came in the fourth inning when a Taillon fastball struck Eugenio Suarez and fractured his right thumb.
Mahle's day began with a 13-pitch plate appearance by Josh Harrison, who fouled off seven straight pitches before walking. It led to a 29-pitch but scoreless first inning.
"He was just fouling balls off," said Mahle, who gave up five earned runs and nine hits over 4 2/3 innings with one walk and two strikeouts. "Some of them were backed-up sliders, so if I throw a good slider there, maybe it would have been a shorter at-bat. Even after that it was kind of rough. They hit some balls hard that guys made good plays on. You know, it was one of those starts where you have to battle the whole time."
Pittsburgh held a 1-0 lead until the fifth inning when Pittsburgh pounced. Harrison started the rally with a one-out single before Gregory Polanco lifted a 3-2 pitch for a two-run homer to right field. Starling Marte hit a double and scored on Josh Bell's RBI single. Although Bell was erased trying for a double, Corey Dickerson followed with a homer to right field on a 0-2 pitch.
"I thought he attacked. He went after them," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He made a couple of mistakes there and they got him for the home runs.
"He had a high pitch count through the first three innings, 58 pitches and a real quick fourth inning and things looked pretty good. Then all of a sudden, the wheels fell off a little bit. I'm excited when he takes the mound. This does nothing to dampen my excitement about his future."
Amir Garrett and Yovani Gallardo kept the Pirates from adding on, but unlike Saturday when the Reds rallied to a win behind Suarez's five RBIs, there was no comeback against Taillon. Mahle provided his single with one out in the third and was erased on a fielder's choice. After Suarez was hit by a pitch in the fourth, the Reds didn't have another baserunner until Scooter Gennett's walk with two outs in the seventh.
Cincinnati didn't get a runner to second base until the ninth when Cliff Pennington walked and went to second base on defensive indifference.
"He was great," Price said of Taillon. "He was sharp, basically fastball, curveball, attacked our lineup and didn't make many mistakes. We didn't do much offensively at all."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Taillon can hit, too: In the third inning following Jordy Mercer's two-out double, Taillon slashed a first-pitch hanging breaking ball into right field for an RBI double that gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead. Mahle was able to keep things quiet after that by retiring eight of the next nine batters, but the Reds would be battling from behind the rest of the day.
Suarez hit-by-pitch: Leading off the top of the fourth inning, Taillon hit Suarez on the right thumb with a 94 mph 1-1 fastball. Suarez spent several moments in obvious pain while being checked out by the trainer and Price. Although he remained in the game to run the bases, he was removed for Pennington before the bottom of the fourth. Later, Suarez was diagnosed with a fractured thumb.
"You love him over there at third and at the plate. It sucks to see that stuff happen," Mahle said. More >
"He did a hell of a job getting out of the inning, he executed some pitches when he had to. He got a big pop-up from Josh Bell there in the infield. No, we weren't behind at all. He was good today, they just made him work." -- Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart on Mahle battling to get out of the first inning
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Reds did not feel there was any intent from Taillon when he hit Suarez. However, hit batsmen have become a staple of Reds-Pirates games in recent years. Over the past six seasons, including 2018, Reds pitchers have hit 64 Pirates batters while Pirates pitchers have hit Reds batters 54 times -- including two this season. From 2013-17 Pirates pitchers led the Majors in hitting batters with pitches with 359, followed by the Reds at 348.
Cody Reed will make the start Monday when the Reds open a three-game series vs. the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park at 7:05 p.m. ET. Reed's previous chance to start was rained out, but he threw an 89-pitch simulated game on Wednesday. He's hoping to impress to stay in the big leagues as Brandon Finnegan nears a return from the disabled list.
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