Cincinnati, OH – Jordy Mercer's tie-breaking single highlighted a two-run seventh inning that lifted the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 3-2 decision over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.
Mercer had one of four consecutive hits off Homer Bailey in the deciding seventh, spoiling an otherwise stellar performance from the Cincinnati right- hander in his first home start since his July 2 no-hitter against San Francisco.
Bailey (5-9) racked up a career-high 12 strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings, but was charged with all three Pirates' runs on seven hits after tiring late.
Counterpart Jeff Locke (9-2) was impressive as well off a near two-week layoff caused by a sore back, with the All-Star lefty limiting the Reds to just one hit and fanning six while yielding one run over six innings of work.
"I felt great today," said Locke. "The back feels great."
Michael McKenry went 2-for-4 with a double and scored the go-ahead run in the seventh, while Garrett Jones added a solo homer to help Pittsburgh halt a three-game losing streak that included the first two tests of this post All- Star break set.
Cincinnati's Shin-Soo Choo had a pair of singles to extend his hitting streak to 15 games, but the Reds managed just one more and had a stretch of three straight victories snapped.
"Well, I don't really have much of a hand in that," said Bailey about the lack of run support. "Days like today, after a while it may start getting to you a bit, but I just have to keep going out there and trying to make pitches."
Bailey overpowered the Pirates' hitters for most of the afternoon, and had set down 13 batters -- nine via strikeout -- over a 14-man stretch until McKenry drilled a double off the wall in left center with one out in the seventh and the game knotted at 1-1.
Mercer followed with a single up the middle that delivered McKenry from second without a throw, and Clint Barmes reached on an infield hit before pinch hitter Jose Tabata singled on Bailey's 121st and final pitch to plate Mercer for a 3-1 lead that the Pittsburgh bullpen nearly squandered an inning later.
Mark Melancon walked a pair of batters around a Choo single as the Reds loaded the bases with none out in the bottom of the eighth, but got the dangerous Joey Votto to bounce into a double play that brought home a run before retiring Brandon Phillips for the final out of the frame.
Jason Grilli then successfully protected the one-run edge in the ninth to nail down his NL-best 30th save of the season.
Prior to his seventh-inning struggles, Bailey's lone mistake came when he hung a first-pitch curveball that Jones belted into the right-field seats to put Pittsburgh up 1-0 in the second.
Locke, meanwhile, permitted just a pair of walks over a four-inning stretch after Choo greeted him with an infield single to begin the bottom of the first, but briefly lost his command in the fifth to allow the Reds to tie the game.
He issued consecutive one-out walks to Zack Cozart and Corky Miller to put two runners aboard, with Bailey advancing both with a sacrifice bunt. Locke then threw a curveball in the dirt that skipped away from McKenry, with Cozart easily crossing the plate on the wild pitch.
Bailey had struck out 10 in a game five times previously, including his no- hitter against the Pirates at PNC Park last September as well as a start against San Francisco in the 2012 NL Division Series ... Locke lowered his MLB-best ERA in road games to 1.73 and has allowed just two runs over 18 innings in three matchups with the Reds this season ... Melancon had a streak of 15 consecutive scoreless innings, which had been the longest active run in the NL, come to an end ... The Pirates improved to 41-17 on the year when homering at least once in a game.