By ALAN SAUNDERS, Associated Press
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Cincinnati Reds have struggled to come up with big hits in key situations so far this season.
Eugenio Suarez stepped up Saturday night.
Suarez hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth inning, and the Reds cooled off the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 7-4 victory.
“When you win a really good game like this, everyone feels good in the clubhouse,” Suarez said. “Personally, I felt great. I was trying to find some holes and I put good swings on some balls and just tried to help us win.”
Pittsburgh opened the season with six wins in seven games and then jumped out to a 4-0 lead against Cincinnati in the second. But the Reds chipped away at the deficit before Suarez finished the job in just their second victory.
Joey Votto hit a sacrifice fly in the third, and Jesse Winker added an RBI single in the fifth. Suarez then tied it at 4 with a two-run single off Dovydas Neverauskas with two out in the sixth.
“The elusive two-out, multi-run base hit,” Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said. “We’ve been waiting for some of those. The big one was certainly the home run, but the two-run single was a big one, too, because it enabled us to get to our bullpen with a tie game and those guys did a great job.”
Suarez came up again with two on in the eighth and drove a 0-1 fastball from George Kontos (0-1) over the wall in left. He finished with three hits.
Wandy Peralta (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the win and Raisel Iglesias worked the ninth for his second save.
“I thought they pitched really well,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “It wasn’t about our approach, it was that the pitching was really hard to hit from my perspective.”
Cincinnati right-hander Sal Romano allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings. He struck out one and walked one.
Corey Dickerson hit a two-run double for Pittsburgh in the first. Josh Harrison added a sacrifice fly in the second, and Adam Frazier had an RBI single.
But Cincinnati’s pitching tightened up after that, retiring 16 straight Pirates from the third through eighth innings.
Chad Kuhl struck out seven in five innings for Pittsburgh. He was charged with two runs and five hits.
Pirates left-hander Steven Brault will remain in the starting rotation after pitching five effective innings in a 5-2 win over Cincinnati on Thursday. Brault made a spot start in place of injured right-hander Joe Musgrove.
The Pirates are off Tuesday, and could have gone with a four-man rotation until April 15, but Hurdle wanted to give Brault another shot.
“This is a guy that we believe is going to be a starter,” Hurdle said. “Right now, he’s got an opportunity to do it.”
THINKING OF HUMBOLDT
Reds first baseman Joey Votto, a Toronto native, had “Humboldt Broncos” written on his cleats in honor of the victims of the fatal bus accident Friday involving Saskatchewan’s Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team.
Reds: OF Scott Schebler (right elbow) missed his fourth straight game after being hit by a pitch Sunday against Washington. The impact did damage to the ulnar nerve in Schebler’s elbow and he is dealing with a lack of feeling in his hand as result. The Reds are still contemplating a move to the disabled list.
Pirates: RF Gregory Polanco was a late scratch with right foot discomfort after fouling a pitch off his foot on Friday night. He is day to day. Frazier replaced him in the lineup. … Musgrove (right shoulder strain) will begin throwing next week in Chicago.
Reds: Tyler Mahle (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will pitch the series finale on Sunday afternoon. Mahle, 23, will be making just his sixth career start, but it’ll be his third against Pittsburgh. He made his major league debut against the Pirates last August.
Pirates: Jameson Taillon (1-0, 3.38 ERA) will make his second start of the season. He tied a career high with nine strikeouts against the Minnesota Twins on Monday.
© 2018, Forrest Church. All rights reserved.