The Reds scored four runs off Gerrit Cole in the first inning Wednesday en route to a 5-2 victory.
Cole began the game with a walk to Billy Hamilton -- never an auspicious sign. Hamilton stole second and third and ended up coming home on Todd Frazier's two-out double to right, which Gregory Polanco dove for and narrowly missed. Then Jay Bruce doubled to left; I couldn't see this from the stands, but I gather Cole should have gotten out of the inning before that happened. Marlon Byrd then blasted a first-pitch fastball for a two-run homer.
Neil Walker led off the second with a double and moved to third on a dubious sacrifice bunt by Josh Harrison. Walker did come home on Pedro Alvarez's groundout, but when you play for one run, that might be all you get, and the Bucs needed a lot more than one run.
They didn't make much of the opportunities they had later. Starling Marte led off the fourth with a double, but got stranded when Andrew McCutchen, Walker and Harrison failed to bring him home. After the Reds grabbed another run in the fifth, the Pirates put their first two runners on in the bottom of the inning, but only managed one run, which came on a groundout by Chris Stewart.
(Side note: There was a Korean couple next to us who were there to see Jung-Ho Kang, and man were they excited when Kang singled that inning. But they were even more excited when the Pirates figured out they were there, whisked them off for a few minutes and then dropped them back at their seats with baseballs signed by Kang. Classy move by the Bucs.)
The Pirates got another shot to score in the seventh, as Stewart singled, Kang grounded into a force out and then Polanco singled and moved up on the throw (narrowly avoiding getting tagged out on yet another slide after the Reds' challenge was denied). But Marte struck out harmlessly to end the threat.
The Bucs didn't get particularly close to tying it up, and Chris Volstad made his Pirates debut late in the game with the Bucs down three runs. He pitched two scoreless innings, for whatever that's worth.
The Pirates fell to 40-31 with the loss.