Pittsburgh Pirates' Jung Ho Kang, left, hits a game-tying two-run home run off Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Blake Wood in the seventh inning of a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016, in Cincinnati. (John Minchillo/AP)
Jordy Mercer had an RBI single with the bases loaded in the 10th inning, David Freese added a two-run single, and the Pirates overcame some shaky defense to preserve their chances in the NL wild-card race with a 9-7 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.
The Pirates loaded the bases against Tony Cingrani (2-5) with a walk and two infield hits, including catcher Francisco Cervelli beating out a bunt to load the bases before Mercer snapped a 6-6 tie with a single to left. Freese singled to center two batters later.
"With (Cingrani), you have to be patient," Cervelli said. "He throws the ball down and wants you to hit ground balls. We tried to do the little things. In that situation, you trust the guy behind you. The way I've been swinging, I had to do it perfectly."
"You can't walk the leadoff man," Reds manager Bryan Price. "It's basically a nothing-nothing game. You have to come in throwing strikes. Tony has had a terrific year, but that's been his nemesis lately."
The Pirates have scored a combined 11 runs in their last at bats over their last two games. They scored eight in the ninth inning on Thursday against Philadelphia.
"They continue to play," manager Clint Hurdle said. "That's it. They're looking to continue games and finish games. That game was fun. Different things happened. Different opportunities presented themselves to different people."
Gregory Polanco and Jung Ho Kang homered to help the Pirates to their third win in four games after a four-game losing streak. Pittsburgh remained 5 1/2 games behind the New York Mets for the NL's second wild card.
Scott Schebler cashed in on two Pittsburgh fielding gaffes with a tie-breaking triple to give the Reds a 6-4 lead in the fifth.
Joey Votto singled with one out in the sixth for a 4-4 tie. One out later, Brandon Phillips reached when pitcher Ryan Vogelsong dropped first baseman John Jaso's throw for an error. Schebler followed with a line drive to center field that McCutchen uncharacteristically misplayed, allowing it to sail past him and roll to the wall for a two-run triple.
Kang tied the game with a two-run homer in the seventh off Blake Wood.
Kang's seventh-inning home run was the 236th allowed by Reds pitchers this season, tying the franchise record set in 2004. It also was the 93rd allowed by the Reds' bullpen, breaking the major league record of 92 set in 1964 by the Kansas City Athletics.
The start of the game was delayed 31 minutes by rain, one day before the teams play a day-night doubleheader created by a postponement from May 10.
Stephenson grazed Kang with a pitch in the first inning and plunked him solidly with the bases loaded in the fifth, pushing to 20 the number of Pirates batters hit by Reds pitchers this season and to 53 the number over the last four seasons, the most by any major league staff against any opponent.
A drone was spotted flying around outside the ballpark before and during the game. A Reds spokesman said the Federal Aviation Administration had given the City of Cincinnati permission to let the drone record events on Friday and Sunday along the Ohio River.
Pirates: Continuing low back problems kept LF Starling Marte out of Friday's starting lineup. Marte hasn't played since Sept. 5.
Reds: A day off on Thursday wasn't enough for SS Zack Cozart's right knee to improve enough to play. Cozart hasn't played because of soreness in the surgically repaired knee since being scratched from Sunday's starting lineup.
Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (1-1) is scheduled to make his first major league start in the second game of Saturday's day-night doubleheader. RHP James Taillon (3-4) is the first-game starter.
Reds: RHP Anthony DeSclafani (8-3) can match the career high for wins he set last season in doubleheader's first game. LHP Robert Finnegan (9-10) is scheduled to start the second game.