Uncharacteristic miscues plague Bucs in extra-inning loss

Pittsburgh commits season-high four errors vs. Reds

May 1st, 2016

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates gave the Reds a good fight Sunday afternoon, coming back in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings to force extras at PNC Park. They also gave their opponent plenty of chances to win, making several mistakes in the field that led to a 6-5 loss in 11 innings.

Enjoying a sound defensive season, Pittsburgh committed a season-high four errors and several other misplays that came back to haunt them.

"I don't think there's a common theme," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Any time you end up with four errors, that's not where you want to be."

Right fielder Gregory Polanco was responsible for one error and another significant misplay.

In the eighth inning, Reds shortstop Zack Cozart hit a ball over Polanco's head. In the 11th, Scott Schebler hit the game-winning double past Polanco's outstretched arm. What happened?

For one, the Pirates moved in their outfielders this season, an attempt to mitigate the damage done on shallow fly balls and grounders that roll through the infield. The plan has worked well, but it may have played a role in Polanco's issues Sunday.

"They just kept going up, kept going up," Polanco said. "We're playing more shallow now. I think I had a chance. I've just got to have a better jump. Still a little bit of an adjustment.

The afternoon sun may have added a degree of difficulty to Polanco's misplays.

"It was hard to read. In day games, it's hard to see the ball clear," Polanco said. "The distance, you don't know. Those two just kept going up."

With two outs, Joey Votto on first base and pinch-runner Tyler Holt on third in the sixth, the Reds called a delayed double steal. Shortstop Jordy Mercer played it well, holding Votto then firing home to well-positioned catcher Chris Stewart.

The ball flew out of Stewart's glove as he tried to tag Holt, running wide of the plate. Stewart slid after it, but Holt safely scampered back to the plate, putting the Reds ahead, 4-3.

"It's one of those freak plays that happens in baseball, and it came at a terrible time," Stewart said. "Big play in the game."

Starter Jeff Locke missed a catch while running to first in the third inning. Third baseman Sean Rodriguez threw a ball away in the seventh. A sixth-inning intentional walk to Brandon Phillips backfired, as Jay Bruce immediately swatted a two-run double.

In the 11th, Eugenio Suarez smoked a low line drive to left field. Starling Marte charged in on the ball and dove, but the ball skidded past him to the wall. Suarez stood on third base with no outs and eventually scored the winning run on Schebler's double past Polanco.

"We did some nice things," Hurdle said. "Unfortunately, a couple balls beat us over the top. We threw a ball away. We misstepped at first base. We weren't able to hold a play at the plate. We got manager error on an intentional walk. It all played in."