Pirates drop 82nd game, ensure 20th straight sub-.500 season

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Joel Hanrahan has been a rock in the closer’s role these last two seasons, but even he let the Pirates down today as the team completed its collapse.

The Reds scored twice in the bottom of the ninth Sunday to beat the Pirates 4-3, dropping Pittsburgh to 77-82 and locking up a 20th consecutive season below .500.

The Pirates peaked at 16 games over .500 on Aug. 6, but they’re now five games under. They’re 5-18 in their last 23 games.

Hanrahan was 36-for-39 saving games this year before giving up a game-tying homer to ex-Pirate Xavier Paul. He took his second loss after Zack Cozart doubled in pinch-runner Denis Phipps to give the Reds the lead.

The homer was Paul’s fifth in 461 major league at-bats. He hit two in 232 at-bats for Pittsburgh last year.

Cincinnati’s win pushed the team back into a tie with the Nationals for the best record in the National League at 96-63.

Michael Wacha leaves game with a left oblique strain

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Cardinals starter Michael Wacha suffered a strained left oblique muscle during his start this afternoon against the Phillies, causing him to leave in the fourth inning.

Wacha is 8-2 with a 3.20 ERA and a 71/36 K/BB ratio in 84.1 innings across 15 starts this season with St. Louis. To the extent he has to miss some time — and obliques invariably send starters to the disabled list — potential fill-in candidates include John Gant, Daniel Poncedeleon and Dakota Hudson.