On July 2, 1993, the Pittsburgh Pirates were in Cincinnati at Riverfront Stadium to take on the Reds. Former Pirates starter John Smiley was on the mound, facing the Pirates for the second time since being traded away prior to the 1992 season. The Pirates had a 37-40 record coming into the day, while the Reds stood at 38-41. The two teams were playing a doubleheader on this day, but we are only looking at the first game here. For the record, the Pirates lost 9-1 in game two, which was played in under two hours. Game one was the make up of a rain out from April.
The Pirates loaded the bases off of Smiley in the first inning on a Carlos Garcia single, Lonnie Smith walk and Orlando Merced two-out, infield single. Don Slaught lined out to second base to end the half inning. Slaught couldn’t come up clutch in a big spot here, but he would make up for it later in the game.
Zane Smith was on the mound and off to a bit of a rough start in 1993. He got off to a rough start in this game as well. The Reds struck first with a lead-off triple by Juan Samuel, followed by a Barry Larkin RBI ground out. With two outs, former Pirates first baseman Randy Milligan hit a solo homer to make it 2-0.
The second inning for the Pirates was similar to the first. They recorded three singles, but couldn’t score a run. One out came on Kevin Young trying to stretch his single into a double. The inning also ended similar, with Jay Bell lining out to shortstop. The Reds went down quickly in the second, with a one-out walk erased three pitches later on an inning-ending double play.
The Pirates got on the board in the third inning. A one-out walk to Jeff King was followed by an Orlando Merced triple and a Don Slaught sacrifice fly. The Pirates tied the score, but it didn’t stay that way long. Juan Samuel hit a one-out single in the bottom of the third on a full count pitch. Then future Hall of Famer Barry Larkin stepped up and hit his sixth home run of the season, giving the Reds their two-run lead back.
In the fourth, William Pennyfeather singled to start the frame. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Zane Smith, then scored two batters later on a single by Jay Bell. On the throw home, Bell moved up to second base. He then stole third base, but was stranded there when Lonnie Smith struck out.
The Reds were already doing well against Zane Smith, but they drove him out of the game in the fourth. It started with three straight hits to begin the inning. Roberto Kelly singled, Reggie Sanders doubled, then Chris Sabo drove them both home with a double. Smith recorded two outs on grounders before Juan Samuel tripled home Sabo to make it 7-3. Smith was done after 3.2 innings and seven earned runs. Dave Otto came on and got Barry Larkin to fly out to right field to end the inning and strand the inherited runner.
The Pirates went up swinging in the fifth and quickly turned this back into a close game. On the first three pitches of the inning, Jeff King doubled, Orlando Merced singled and Don Slaught homered. It happened so quickly that Smiley had to face three more batters while a reliever warmed up. One batter reached on an error, but no more damage was done. Bobby Ayala finished the inning in relief, while Smiley was done after 4.2 innings with six runs allowed on 11 hits.
Dave Otto tossed a scoreless bottom of the fifth, then the Pirates picked things back up on offense. Lonnie Smith doubled, then Jeff King walked. Orlando Merced singled home Smith. Slaught was up next and he hit another three-run homer. He had four home runs on the year coming into this game. The Pirates had trailed 7-3 going into the fifth, but they were now up 10-7.
In the bottom of the sixth, Sabo walked to start the inning. He moved to second on a ground out, stayed at second on a line out to center field, then scored on a Juan Samuel single. Otto once again retired Barry Larkin in a big spot to end an inning.
The Reds went to reliever Jerry Spradlin in the seventh and it took him a total of six pitches to get three fly ball outs. The Reds cut the lead to 10-9 after the seventh inning stretch when Kevin Mitchell hit his 12th home run of the season to lead off the inning. After a ground out, the Pirates went to reliever Blas Minor, who struck out the next two batters.
The eighth inning went quickly for both sides, with 20 pitches total thrown in the inning. That included a four-pitch walk to Lonnie Smith to start the top of the eighth, but he was quickly vanished on a double play ball off of the bat of Jeff King. Minor needed seven pitches total to retire the side.
Jeff Reardon pitched the ninth for the Reds and he got two strikeouts and a pop up to shortstop, sending the game to the bottom of the ninth with a 10-9 score and Stan Belinda coming on to pitch. Belinda walked Juan Samuel to start the inning. Larkin grounded out, putting the tying run at second base. After a foul out by Kevin Mitchell, the Pirates made the interesting decision to intentionally walk pinch-hitter Hal Morris, putting the winning run on base. It worked out fine though, as Belinda was able to get pinch-hitter Jeff Branson to ground out to second base, ending the game.
Somehow the Pirates had six base runners in the first two innings without a run, saw their starter allow seven runs, yet they still won the game. This game ended up being the final start of the season for Smiley. He had a bone spur removed from his elbow and missed the remainder of the season. Don Slaught was the big hero, driving in seven runs. That was a career high for him, topping the five he had seven years earlier in a game for the Texas Rangers. Slaught never had more than three RBIs in a game after this contest.
Here’s the boxscore and play-by-play courtesy of Baseball-Reference.