CINCINNATI – One of Homer Baileys greatest moments came a year ago at PNC Park. He doesnt want to have to go back there again this season.
The Cincinnati Reds will have to win their last two games of the season to avoid that return trip.
Marlon Byrd had three hits and Pedro Alvarez hit a two-run homer Friday night, leading the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Reds 4-1 in a series that will decide the NL wild-card game host.
Both teams clinched postseason berths this week. Whoever wins the three-game series would be assured of playing host for the one-game playoff Tuesday night.
Needing a solid game, Bailey (11-12) couldnt control his pitches.
I was all over the place, Bailey said. Four walks, two hit batters – terrible timing to have a bad game.
Byrd and Alvarez provided all of the Pirates runs off Bailey (11-12), who has walked a season-high four batters in each of his last three games.
I think hes trying really hard, and trying really hard can be counterproductive, manager Dusty Baker said. Weve got to get him on track for his next start.
A.J. Burnett (10-11) handled the Reds slumping lineup, giving up Todd Fraziers homer and five hits overall in eight innings. Jason Grilli gave up a hit in the ninth while getting his 33rd save.
Cincinnati has lost three straight and scored one run in the last 22 innings, leaving its pitching staff with no margin for error.
Once I got that, I thought we might get a spark going, but we couldnt find it, Frazier said.
Baker changed his lineup – slumping Ryan Ludwick moved into the second spot in the order – but the Reds got only two runners as far as second base and hit into a pair of double plays.
We havent been hitting the last two games, Baker said.
The Pirates lead the series with the Reds 9-8. Fourteen of the 17 games have been decided by three runs or less. Batters have been plunked 26 times during the series, most in the majors this year.
The Pirates got the early advantage in this decisive series by beating Bailey, who threw the first of his two no-hitters at PNC Park on Sept. 28 last year. Since then, hes failed to beat the Pirates in four starts, going 0-3.
He helped the Pirates load the bases in the third on a hit batter and a pair of walks, and Byrd singled through the hole at shortstop for a 2-0 lead.
Byrd doubled off the top of the wall in center field to open the sixth, and Alvarez hit his 35th homer high off the batters eye for a 4-1 lead that ended Baileys outing. He gave up four runs, four hits and four walks, hit two batters and threw a wild pitch.
Burnett handled Cincinnatis slumping lineup, retiring the last 10 batters he faced.
Joey Votto singled twice, surpassing Pete Roses club record of reaching base 311 times in a season.