The bases were loaded with one out in the sixth inning and the Cincinnati Reds trailed the Pittsburgh Pirates by a run.
It was former Pirate Colin Moran against former Red Heath Hembree.
Who would get their revenge?
It was Moran and it was a crusher, a grand-slam home run that left the bat at 108 mph, traveled 400 feet and slammed into the right-field seats.
And it turned a 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 lead, one the Reds protected for a 7-3 victory. The Reds won two of three vs. the Pirates, their first series win after losing seven straight.
To make certain the Pirates got his message, Moran homered again in the eighth, giving him six RBI on the day.
The soft-spoken, heavily-bearded Moran downplayed the revenge factor and didn’t even crack a smile during his post-game on-the-field interview with Jim Day of Bally Sports Ohio.
“It felt good because I haven’t been swinging it well, so just to barrel up some balls felt great,” he said.
Of an extra high by doing it against the Pirates, Moran said, “Not really. I was just trying to square up the baseball. Any time you hit a grand slam if feels good, obviously. Nothing against that team. I’m still close to most of those guys.”
And his fifth career grand slam failed to ignite a smile or any effusive words.
“I don’t know, I just try to hit a fly ball, I guess,” he said. “If I had a secret, I’d try to put it on every situation. I was looking for a fastball, sitting fastball, and I got it.”
It was a bizarre game in its entirety as the Reds recorded their first come-from-behind win this season. And they were 0-23 when trailing in the sixth inning.
Reds starter Tyler Mahle gave up only one hit over five innings, but it was a two-run home run by Pittsburgh catcher Michael Perez that followed a walk. Perez was taking his first at bat after as call-up from Triple-A Saturday.
Mahle’s problem was the same problem he always has … too many pitches. He went to 3-and-2 counts on eight batters and had to leave after five innings with 106 pitches.
Meanwhile, the Reds were facing Zach Thompson, who was 0-3 with a 10.30 earned run average for his starts this season.
But the Reds couldn’t solve him, only two singles in five innings.
The Pirates replaced him in the sixth with left-hander Dillon Peters, who brought an impeccable work sheet to the mound, asked to protect the 2-0 Pittsburgh lead.
He was 3-0 with a 0.00 earned run average — no runs and 13 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings.
Brandon Drury began the Reds’ sixth with a bloop single to right over the first baseman’s head. Peters than took a short walk on the wild side. He walked three straight batters, including pinch-hitter Tommy Pham, to force in a run.
That brought up Moran and he unloaded the fifth grand slam of his career, the first four as a member of the Pirates, and his first home run as a member of the Reds.
Moran spent the previous four seasons with the Pirates, but his option was not picked up after last season and the Reds signed him as a free agent on March 17.
Hembree was 2-7 with a 6.38 earned run average in 45 relief appearances for the Reds last season. The Pirates signed him as a free agent two days before the Reds signed Moran.
Art Warren followed Mahle and struck out the side in the sixth and gave up a two-out single in the seventh to Jack Suwinski.
Dauri Moreta pitched the eighth and for the second straight day gave up a home run to Bryan Reynolds, cutting the Reds margin to 5-3.
Then Moran plunged the sword into the Pirates’ hearts with his second home run, a two-run rip in the eighth to lift the Reds to a 7-3 lead.