Johnny Cueto (0-1) struggled early forcing Dusty Baker to go to his bullpen while Francisco Liriano (1-0) was on his game to set up a date with the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series. The Reds still have not won a postseason series since the 1995 NLDS.
The Pirates jumped on Cueto early in the game as Marlon Byrd led off the second inning with a home run and then Russell Martin followed two batters later with a solo blast of his own. With runners at first and third and one out, Cueto was able to limit the damage in the third to just one run on a Pedro Alvarez sac fly.
Meanwhile, Liriano retired the first nine Reds hitters before Shin-Soo Choo was hit by a pitch and then Ryan Ludwick singled. Joey Votto struck out and then Brandon Phillips popped out, but Jay Bruce was able to pick up the slack and drove in Choo to make it 3-1.
Starling Marte ripped a one out double off the left field umpire to chase Cueto after just 3.1 innings. Sean Marshall came in to turn the switch hitting Neil Walker to the right side of the plate, but Walker snapped his hitless streak against Marshall and doubled in Marte.
Marshall followed with an intentional walk to Andrew McCutchen and then walked lefty Justin Mourneau to load the bases for Byrd. J.J. Hoover came on and did what he was supposed to, but Phillips bobbled the exchange and instead of an inning ending double play, the Reds settled for one out and another Pirates run.
Liriano continued to dominate while Alfredo Smon and Manny Parra were able to work around back-to-back singles to keep the score at 5-1. In the seventh Todd Frazier doubled off Liriano with one out, but he induced two ground balls by Zack Cozart and Ryan Hanigan to finish his night.
Logan Ondrusek came on and allowed the second home run of the night by Martin to make it 6-1 in the seventh. Cincinnati answered in the top of the ninth when Choo achieved the first home run by a left handed hitter against the lefty Tony Watson. The play was reviewed to see if there was fan interference, but the ruling was ultimately upheld.
Ludwick followed with a double to try and start the Reds offense, but Watson got ground ball outs from Votto and Phillips. The two combined to go 0-8 on the day with Votto striking out twice.
Sam LeCure worked a scoreless ninth to keep the deficit at four, but the Pirates took no chances and went to their closer Jason Grilli. Grilli retired the Reds in order with Cozart recording the final out.
Cincinnati will now have some offseason questions to address and will certainly be circling April 14 when the Pirates come to Great American Ballpark for the first time next season. The Reds will take the field next during spring ball in preparation for Opening Day with the Cardinals on March 31 at GABP.