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Reds slip by Pirates, tighten NL Wild Card race

Reds slip by Pirates, tighten NL Wild Card race
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Mychal Givens (L) hugs catcher Tucker Barnhart in celebration of a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 17 (UPI) -- The Cincinnati Reds used a seventh-inning sacrifice fly from Asdrubal Cabrera and a pristine Tyler Mahle pitcher performance to slip by the Pittsburgh Pirates 1-0 and tighten the National League Wild Card race.

Mahle allowed five hits in six shutout innings for the victory Thursday at PNC Park in Cincinnati.

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"It means a lot," Cabrera told reporters. "That's what I'm here to do: help the team win."

The Reds (76-71) sit just one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals (76-69) for the second and final spot in the Wild Card standings. The Los Angeles Dodgers (94-53) own the first spot and clinched a playoff berth earlier this week.

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The San Diego Padres are a half-game behind the Cardinals in the Wild Card race.

Mahle and Pirates starter Connor Overton dueled through the first three innings to keep the game scoreless. Mahle stayed in the game for another three innings, but the Pirates went to their bullpen for the final six innings.

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Pirates relief pitcher Sam Howard pitched a scoreless fourth. Fellow reliever Cody Ponce then retired the next six consecutive Reds batters, but got into trouble in the seventh.

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The right-handed pitcher allowed a leadoff double to Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson. He walked Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer in his second exchange of the inning. Reds center fielder Shogo Akiyama moved the runners over with sacrifice bunt.

Cabrera hit Ponce's next pitch, an 80.6-mph curveball, to left field. The sacrifice fly allowed pinch runner Delino DeShields to score from third base.

Reds relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen entered the game in the bottom of the eighth and retired the Pirates in order.

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Mychal Givens replaced Lorenzen in the bottom of the ninth. He struck out Pirates first baseman Colin Moran in the first at-bat of the half inning. He then issued consecutive walks to left fielder Ben Gamel and shortstop Kevin Newman.

Givens retired the final two Pirates hitters to secure the win and earn his eighth save of the season.

Gamel and Pirates third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes recorded two hits apiece in the loss. The Pirates stranded 19 runners on base.

Overton allowed two hits in three scoreless innings, but was not on the record for a decision. Stephenson, Farmer and first baseman Joey Votto were the only players to reach base twice for the Reds. They each logged one hit and one walk.

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The Reds host the Dodgers at 7:10 p.m. EDT Friday at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The Pirates face the Miami Marlins at 7:10 p.m. EDT Friday at loanDepot Park in Miami.

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