“Once I started to play catch, I was fine,” said Mahle, who also notched his first career hit. “I got a little wild. I had to slow everything down. I like to work fast, but I got a little too fast and walked a couple guys. Mack came out to slow me down a little bit and it worked.
“If you can pinpoint what you’re doing on the spot. you’ll have a successful career,” he added.
Mahle gave up a two-run double to John Jaso in the fourth inning and Andrew McCutchen’s RBI single in the fifth.
Catcher Chad Wallach, who also was making his major league debut, watched the same pitcher he’s caught several times in the minor leagues over the past couple of seasons.
“He looked good,” Wallach said. “There were a couple pitches up, but the double was a lucky hit. It kind of hugged the line.
“I’ve never seen a lot of emotion out of him,” Wallach added. “The most I’ve seen if he gets a big out, he will pat his glove a little bit, but that’s it.”
The Pirates in the ninth added two runs on three straight hits, including Starling Marte’s two-run single against closer Raisel Iglesias, who was pitching for the fourth consecutive day. Previously, he’d pitched on just two straight days in his career. He hadn’t been scored in his previous five appearances.
The Reds were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base, including three in the ninth, while slipping to 2-4 on their nine-game home stand. They have scored two runs in their last 19 innings.
“The game was sitting there for us to win and we didn’t do it,” Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Scott Schebler drove in Scooter Gennett with an unearned run set up by catcher Elias Diaz’s throwing error in the second, and Zack Cozart scored on Gennett’s groundout in the fifth.
They loaded the bases with nobody out in third inning against Jameson Taillon, who went 1-0 on Adam Duvall, prompting a visit from pitching coach Ray Searage. Taillon scrambled back to strike out Duvall looking, get Gennett to foul out to catcher Elias Diaz and coax Jose Peraza – who went into the game 8-for-10 with two doubles in his career against Taillon – into flying out to McCutchen in center field.
The Reds loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, helped by shortstop Sean Rodriguez’s throwing error on what would have been the final out of the game, but Duvall grounded into a game-ending fielder’s choice.
Duvall left five runners in scoring position.
Votto was the Reds last baserunner, drawing his fifth walk of the game to load the bases. He worked five walks for the second time in his career, tying the franchise record also held by Hughie Critz and Johnny Bench.
For the second time in franchise history, both this season, a Reds pitcher and catcher made their major league debuts as the starting battery. On Sunday, it was Mahle and Wallach, the son of former major league 3B and current Marlins bench coach Tim Wallach. On April 6, it was RHP Rookie Davis and Stuart Turner.