Pirates closer Mark Melancon has been pretty good this season. Great, in fact. He entered play Friday having strung together 21 consecutive scoreless appearances and hadn’t allowed an earned run since May 11. As a result, he was 32-for-33 in save situations with a 1.32 ERA in 47 2/3 innings.
Melancon’s streak was in danger of ending on Friday night against the Reds. Staked to a one run lead, he took the mound in the bottom of the ninth, but immediately served up a leadoff single to Brandon Phillips. Jason Bourgeois laid down a bunt to move Phillips into scoring position. The red-hot Joey Votto drew a walk, putting the potential winning run on first base and bringing 2015 Home Run Derby champion Todd Frazier to the plate.
Frazier ripped a single past a diving Aramis Ramirez into left field. Marte fired a strong one-hopper to catcher Francisco Cervelli, who easily applied the tag to Phillips for the second out of the inning. Votto, now the potential tying run, stood on second base as Marlon Byrd stepped to the plate.
Byrd lined a 3-2 breaking ball towards Marte in left field. Marte ranged to his right and dove, snagging the sinking liner just before it could make contact with the grass at Great American Ballpark. On consecutive plays, Marte’s defense allowed the Pirates to walk away 5-4 winners and he kept Melancon’s scoreless streak alive.
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It looks like Marte might’ve dinged up his wrist in making the catch. Hopefully it’s nothing a nice steak dinner — on Melancon’s tab — can’t help heal.