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Pregame: Tabata en fuego

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CINCINNATI — Jose Tabata woke up this morning ranked fifth in the NL with a .475 on-base percentage and is tied for second — second! — with seven stolen bases. Dude can just flat-out play.

That’s why manager Clint Hurdle had no qualms about putting Tabata into the No. 2 spot in the batting order. “I don’t think there’s any argument about the job Tabata has done at the top,” Hurdle said. “I’m confident Tabata’s going to do that kind of job in the second hole.”

Tabata also did a great job in left field on a night when the weather conditions were especially challenging. It drizzled on and off throughout the game. And, starting around the fourth inning, a howling wind blew off the Ohio River and wreaked havoc with fly balls.

“Oh, wow,” Tabata said. “When I saw the ball, I said, ‘Oh, oh, oh! I was a little nervous. (Charlie) Morton was pitching so good, I wanted to catch every ball for him.”

»»» Hurdle said the storm last night reminded him of the often blustery conditions at old Candlestick Park in San Francisco: “With that much debris on the field, the wind, the rain — coming sideways, all over the place, you don’t know where it’s coming from, it’s going left, right and sometimes I think it was going back up — it was challenging conditions, to say the least.”

»»» The Reds pushed righty Edinson Volquez back a day to Sunday due to neck stiffness. Right-hander Mike Leake will start today.

»»» Since the 2010 All-Star break, Neil Walker ranks third in the NL with 65 RBI. He trails Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki (75) and Carlos Gonzalez (67).

»»» Morton’s complete-game win last night came in the 13th game of the season. Last year, it took 91 games before the Pirates got their first (and only) complete game from a starting pitcher. Paul Maholm beat Houston on July 18.

Lineups:

Pirates (6-7) – 1. Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Jose Tabata lf, 3. Lyle Overbay 1b, 4. Neil Walker 2b, 5. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 6. Ryan Doumit c, 7. Garrett Jones rf, 8. Ronny Cedeno ss, 9. James McDonald rhp (0-0, 5.56)

Reds (8-5) – 1. Drew Stubbs cf, 2. Miguel Cairo 2b, 3. Joey Votto 1b, 4. Jonny Gomes lf, 5. Jay Bruce rf, 6. Juan Francisco 3b, 7. Ramon Hernandez c, 8. Paul Janish ss, 9. Mike Leake rhp (1-0, 6.75)

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