Suarez homers, Votto drives in 2 as Reds edge Pirates 8-6

Suarez homers, Votto drives in 2 as Reds edge Pirates 8-6

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Cincinnati Reds’ Eugenio Suarez rounds third after hitting a two-run home run off Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Joe Musgrove in the fourth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Eugenio Suarez homered in the second straight game and Joey Votto celebrated his 1,500th major league contest by going 2 for 4 with two RBIs as the Cincinnati Reds held off the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-6 on Sunday.

Suarez turned on a Joe Musgrove (2-2) offering and sent it into the bleachers in left field for a two-run shot in the fourth. Votto hit a drive to deep right-center the fifth to chase Musgrove and give the Reds the cushion they would need to beat the Pirates for just the second time in seven tries at PNC Park this season.

Scott Schebler added three RBIs for Cincinnati, including a two-run home run in the ninth to provide Cincinnati a little extra breathing room after Pittsburgh had trimmed a four-run deficit to one.

Anthony DeSclafani (2-1) surrendered solo home runs to Colin Moran and Gregory Polanco but otherwise kept the Pirates in check to pick up his second victory since his return after missing the entire 2017 season with right elbow issues.

Raisel Iglesias allowed an inherited runner to score in the eighth and an RBI-single to Austin Meadows in the ninth but managed to record the final four outs for his 10th save, receiving a bit of help in the process.

Iglesias entered with two on and two outs in the eighth and immediately surrendered a double in the gap to Gregory Polanco. David Freese scored to pull the Pirates within one but Josh Bell was out at home trying to score all the way from first

The call stood upon review after the Pirates challenged that catcher Curt Casali illegally blocked the plate.

Moran’s home run was his second in as many days. Polanco, mired in a slump that’s seen him dropped to seventh in the batting order, went 3 for 3 with his ninth home run of the season.

Musgrove had been impressive in his first four starts for the Pirates after starting the year on the disabled list with right-shoulder problems but the Reds jumped on him the second time through the lineup.

Cincinnati scored two runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth and finished 4 for 7 with runners in scoring position after going 0 for 19 in the same situation over the first two games of the series, both losses.

Musgrove was charged with six runs in 4 1/3 innings with a walk and six strikeouts as his ERA jumped from 2.16 to 3.68.

CATCHING ON

Struggling Reds centerfielder Billy Hamilton went 3 for 4 to pick up his first multi-hit game in three weeks to lift his average to .197, stole two bases and scored three times. He also made a spectacular grab on a shot to the gap in right-center by Pittsburgh’s Francisco Cervelli in the first.

Hamilton’s full-out extension to rob Cervelli of extra bases earned an ovation from the Pirates catcher, who raised his hands in appreciation of Hamilton’s effort. Hamilton later started the sequence that ended with Bell being thrown out at the plate by getting the ball to shortstop Jose Peraza, who then relayed it to Casali.

UP NEXT

Reds: off Monday then host Detroit in a brief two-game interleague series starting Tuesday when Sal Romano (3-7, 5.67 ERA) faces Matthew Boyd (4-4, 3.23).

Pirates: Welcome Milwaukee to PNC Park for the first time this season when the Brewers come in for a three-game set starting Monday. Trevor Williams (5-4, 4.38 ERA) faces Jhoulys Chacin (6-1, 3.32) in the opener.

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Reds notebook: Nick Senzel makes start at shortstop; Brandon Dixon hits 1st home run

Reds notebook: Nick Senzel makes start at shortstop; Brandon Dixon hits 1st home run

PITTSBURGH – Nick Senzel, the Reds’ top prospect, played his first professional game at shortstop Saturday at Class-AAA Louisville.

Typically a second and third baseman, the Reds had Senzel play shortstop during Spring Training.

“(Louisville manager) Dick (Schofield) said he just put him over there,” Riggleman said. “Just decided that he was going to get him a game there. He’s played a lot of second and third. I think he will be back at third today. Just a one-time thing.”

Entering Sunday, Senzel has recorded at least two hits in seven straight games to raise his batting average from .256 to .305. In 39 games, he owns a .377 on-base percentage with four homers and 21 RBI.

He missed nearly a month of the season while dealing with vertigo at the beginning of May.

“Senzel has had two episodes of vertigo in his career,” Riggleman said. “He’s an infielder, which is the strength of our club in the big leagues. If we had failures in the infield here, maybe he would already be here. But our infielders have done well and it gives us a chance to let him continue to develop and get his feet back on the ground after going through his situation.”

Senzel is ranked as the No. 7 prospect among all teams by Baseball America.

ONE TO REMEMBER: When Brandon Dixon was rounding the bases following his first career home run Saturday, he wondered if he would receive the silent treatment in the dugout from his teammates.

Not the case.

Dixon had a smile on his face as he slapped hands with everyone.

“They were all excited for me so that was cool,” Dixon said.

The pinch-hit, ninth-inning home run to left field was more memorable for Dixon because it happened on his dad’s birthday. He planned on giving the ball to his dad.

“Out of pretty much anyone in my life, he’s probably had the biggest influence on me,” Dixon said. “It was pretty special.”

PERALTA WORKING ON WALKS: Left-handed reliever Wandy Peralta has struggled with his command throughout the season.

In 29 1/3 innings, Peralta has issued 24 walks. That matches his total from last season when he pitched 64 2/3 innings.

“The walks aren’t good,” Peralta said. “I’m working every day – trying to keep my head up.”

Entering with two runners on base Friday, Peralta hit left-handed batter Corey Dickerson with a pitch – the only batter he faced.

NEXT STEP FOR BAILEY: Homer Bailey was scratched from his second rehab start at Louisville on Saturday because of soreness in his injured right knee.

Bailey is expected to return to Cincinnati to be re-evaluated this week.

In his only rehab start, Bailey gave up five runs and six hits in three innings.

HERRERA CALLED UP: Claimed off waivers by the Kansas City Royals earlier this month, former Reds utility player Rosell Herrera was added to the Royals’ 25-man roster Sunday.

Herrera had 13 at-bats with the Reds this season. He was designated for assignment to make room for catcher Curt Casali on June 1.

Reds at Pirates, Game Three

Reds at Pirates, Game Three

Anthony DeSclafani has only made two starts this season. In those – both at home in GABP – he’s allowed 6 ER, and managed to log only 10 IP. Ho hum, really, and pretty much par for the course for what we’ve come to expect from Cincinnati Reds starting pitching these days.

However, Disco has managed to fan 11 batters and issue just 3 walks in those 10 IP, and that’s the kind of zone-attacking that the rest of the Cincinnati starters have struggled with mightily for years on end. So, despite the tiniest of tiny samples, seeing Disco’s 3.08 FIP against the backdrop of the Reds league-worst starting rotation FIP of 5.37 is at least a bit exciting, specifically because we’ve at least seen Disco be precisely that kind of pitcher in his past when healthy.

He’ll allow his share of hits, to be sure. However, he’s been pretty danged good at keeping those in the park, and with just a 2.4 BB/9 across his 351 career MLB innings pitched, it’s pretty clear he’s not simply going to give the opposition free bases. And really, it’s that kind of skill set while on the mound that has me so irrationally excited to see him back, healthy, and poised to jerk at least a part of this rotation into something worth watching.

Disco will face the Pittsburgh Pirates this Sunday for his first road start of the year. He’ll share the mound with Pirates starter Joe Musgrove, who along with Michael Felize and Colin Moran – who dingered for Pittsburgh yesterday – were the return from the Houston Astros in last winter’s Gerrit Cole trade.

First pitch is set for 1:35 PM ET.

Cincinnati Lineup

Pittsburgh Lineup

Pirates eye sweep of Reds with Musgrove on mound

Pirates eye sweep of Reds with Musgrove on mound

The Pittsburgh Pirates had to wait several weeks into the season to see just what they got with right-hander Joe Musgrove in an offseason trade with Houston.

It has been about a month since he came off the disabled list after a shoulder injury delayed his season debut, and Musgrove has proved fiercely competitive and fiercely loyal.

Musgrove is 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA for Pittsburgh (35-35) going into his sixth start Sunday, against right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (1-1, 5.40) and the Cincinnati Reds (25-45) in a series finale at PNC Park.

With a 6-2 victory Saturday, the Pirates won their third straight, climbed back to .500 and ensured themselves of winning a series after dropping eight in a row.

The Reds have lost two straight after a three-game winning streak.

Not only is Musgrove averaging more than six innings per start, with 23 strikeouts in 25 innings and a 1.12 WHIP, but also has played with an edge.

“He’s a tough guy,” Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli said last month. “When he’s on the mound, he’s mean. He’s the kind of guy that you want to have on the mound all the time.”

In his most recent outing, a no-decision Monday in Arizona’s comeback 9-5 win, Musgrove was cruising with a 5-0 lead in the seventh inning when he hit Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Chris Owings in acknowledged retaliation.

An inning earlier, Diamondbacks right-hander Braden Shipley hit Pirates infielder Josh Harrison — who got plunked 23 times last year and spent time on the DL this season and last because of a broken hand after being hit by pitches — and Pittsburgh rookie Austin Meadows got knocked down by a pitch earlier.

“It’s nothing more than just protecting your teammates,” Musgrove said. “It’s baseball. That’s how the game is played. That’s how I was raised to play the game. You protect your teammates, especially when a guy gets hit high up and in.”

The Pirates appreciated Musgrove’s loyalty, despite the fact that his retaliatory move might have sparked Arizona’s winning rally.

“That wasn’t the turning point of the game in my eyes,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “You can’t control what other people are going to think.

“The importance of teammates taking a stand for one another, I think that is part of the game. Everybody can construct their own narrative afterward. But I know (Harrison) has been hit a ton, been hit a lot. … Just plunking our guys, whether it’s accidental or not, is just not OK.”

Harrison said “it felt good” to have his new teammate stand up for him.

Musgrove has never faced the Reds.

DeSclafani has made six career starts against Pittsburgh, going 1-2 with a 3.41 ERA, but not since Sept. 17, 2016.

DeSclafani missed all of 2017 because of an elbow injury and, like Musgrove, opened this season on the DL because of an oblique strain.

Last Sunday, in his second start this season, DeSclafani picked up his first win since Sept. 28, 2016, 6-3 over St. Louis. He gave up two runs and 10 hits in five innings, with six strikeouts and two walks.

“I don’t think I was as good as I wanted to be,” DeSclafani said. “There’s definitely a lot of work from here on out. I was falling behind some guys and giving up too many hits.

“But it’s definitely something to build on.”

He has yet to get his setup pitch, his curveball, back to where it once was.

“Definitely still getting a feel for it. I only threw a few of them,” he said. “It’s definitely got to be incorporated. I need some kind of equalizer to (go along with) my fastball and slider. Once that comes around, it should make things a little bit easier.”

Reds' Billy Hamilton: Dealing with sore knee

Reds' Billy Hamilton: Dealing with sore knee

Though Hamilton was due for a day off anyhow, he’s also dealing with a sore right knee after banging into the center field wall Wednesday night in Kansas City, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports.

Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman suggested that Hamilton likely will return for the next two games of the series over the weekend. “If he’s going to get a day off, it’s a good one,” Riggleman said. “He was banging around out there pretty good. I was going to give him one day off in this series, just to keep the other guys sharp. This would be the day. The next two after that, I’m not sure who will be out.”

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Kuhl impresses again as Pirates top Reds, 3-2

Kuhl impresses again as Pirates top Reds, 3-2

The Pittsburgh Pirates scored twice in the sixth inning and Chad Kuhl gave up one earned run in six innings Friday in a 3-2 win over the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

The Pirates’ scoring plays came on a double play and two sacrifice flies. They have won back-to-back games for the first time since they won three straight May 15-17.

Cincinnati had its three-game winning streak halted.

Kuhl (5-4) allowed two runs — one unearned because of his error — and six hits in six innings, with six strikeouts and three walks. He has given up just eight earned runs in his past five starts.

Felipe Vazquez pitched the ninth for his 13th save.

Matt Harvey (1-5) gave up three runs and four hits in five-plus innings, with two strikeouts and two walks. The Reds won in his first three starts after he was acquired from the Mets, and now have lost in his past four starts.

The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the second. Harvey walked Colin Moran and Francisco Cervelli, and Josh Bell singled to load the bases. Gregory Polanco grounded into a double play, scoring Moran.

Cincinnati tied it in the third. Scott Schebler led off with a single and, an out later, moved third on Joey Votto‘s double off the wall in center. Scooter Gennett’s sacrifice fly brought Schebler home.

The Reds took a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Adam Duvall and Jose Peraza singled. Kuhl picked up a bunt by Harvey but threw wide toward third, allowing Duvall to score.

Pittsburgh moved back ahead in the sixth. Pinch hitter Elias Diaz and Josh Harrison singled, chasing Harvey. Wandy Peralta came in for one batter, hitting Corey Dickerson to load the bases.

The third pitcher of the inning, Michael Lorenzen, gave up a sacrifice fly to right by Starling Marte, tying it, and Moran followed with another sacrifice fly to bring home Harrison for a 3-2 lead.

–Field Level Media