Ji Hwan Bae went 2-for-3 and started a go-ahead rally with a walk and a stolen base as the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates edged the Cincinnati Reds, 5-4, in the 2023 season opener for both clubs.
Oneil Cruz drove a sacrifice fly to deep left in the eighth inning off reliever and loser Buck Farmer (0-1), scoring Bae to snap the 4-4 tie.
The Reds unsuccessfully challenged a close out call on a strike out-throw out double play in which pinch-runner Stuart Fairchild was called out at second base to end the eighth.
Rob Zastryzny (1-0) earned the win for the Pirates, coming on to finish the sixth inning and pitching a perfect seventh.
Pirates closer David Bednar pitched around a one-out double to Jonathan India in the ninth, striking out the next two batters for his first save.
The Reds put their first three runners on in the first inning off starter Mitch Keller but only scored once on a Tyler Stephenson 6-4-3 double play that plated India.
The Pirates tied the game in the third on Cruz’s homer 425 feet to the sun and moon deck in right against Reds starter Hunter Greene.
The Pirates took advantage of a complete loss of control from Cincinnati pitching in the fourth inning.
After Greene allowed a one-out double to Bae and a walk to Austin Hedges, Reds manager David Bell decided to pull his starter. Reliever Fernando Cruz walked the next three batters — Cruz, Bryan Reynolds and Andrew McCutchen — to force in a pair of runs for a 3-1 Pittsburgh lead.
Greene allowed five hits and three runs over 3 1/3 innings, striking out eight and walking one. Forty-four of his 83 pitches were clocked at 100 miles an hour or higher.
A Cruz wild pitch to Carlos Santana allowed Cruz to score and Pittsburgh had a 4-1 advantage.
The Reds crept closer with a 435-foot solo homer by Spencer Steer to left-center off Keller in the fourth. The Pirates starter was knocked out of the game an inning later when the Reds tied the game on a two-out, two-run triple from Jason Vosler, filling in for the injured Joey Votto at first base.
Keller allowed four runs and six hits, striking out eight and walking four over 4 2/3 innings in his 2023 debut.
The annual Reds opener drew a Great American Ball Park-record crowd of 44,063.