On the banks of the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh, the Cincinnati Reds needed just one home run to score 11 runs to route the Pirates and ruin their home finale on Sunday.
The Reds (89-67) solidified a .500 season on the road going 41-41 with the victory against a Pirates (89-67) team that was 50-31 at PNC Park this season. The win also means that nothing was settled this weekend as the two teams remain tied for the top Wild Card spot. The Nationals (84-72) split their double header on Sunday to set the Pirates and Reds magic number at two to officially clinch the two Wild Card spots.
Cincinnati scored early and often against Jeff Locke (10-7) who has been anywhere near the All-Star he was in the first half of the season. Locke struggled with command as he walked the bases loaded for Jay Bruce who then cleared the bases with a double for the quick 3-0 lead. He came in to score on the next at bat when Todd Frazier homered to make it 5-0.
Pittsburgh then turned to Jeanmar Gomez and achieved on slightly better results in the second inning. Billy Hamilton singled and then stole the first of two bases to start the inning. On the season Hamilton, who set the single season steals record last season in the minors, is a perfect 12-12 since being called up earlier this month. He then scored on a double by Chris Heisey to make it 6-0. Heisey came in to score on a sac fly by Brandon Phillips.
The Pirates finally blemished Bronson Arroyo (14-11) in the third when Neil Walker homered. Travis Snider also homered in the fifth and Justin Morneau drove in another to cut the lead to 7-3. That's all the Reds pitching staff allowed as the bullpen, represented by Alfredo Simon, Manny Parra, and Logan Ondrusek, held the Pirates hitless the rest of the way.
Meanwhile Heisey, Joey Votto, and Bruce all added run scoring hits in the eighth to blow the game wide open. Just for some insurance Derrick Robinson got in on the act when he singled in Zack Cozart to end the scoring in the ninth.
The Reds return home for the final six games of the season. First they will entertain the New York Mets (71-84) and will be greeted by a familiar face. The Mets decided to shut down rookie Zack Wheeler and will instead send former Reds Opening Day starter Aaron Harang (5-12) to the mound on Monday. He'll square off against the man who took the ball on Opening Day this season in Johnny Cueto (5-2). After the three game set with New York the Reds will get one more shot at the Pirates to close the regular season at Great American Ballpark.