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Dickerson swings the big stick in Pirates 6-2 win

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Corey Dickerson’s two home runs keyed a 6-2 Pirates win in Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, giving them eight consecutive victories and ten of their last eleven.

Despite slamming 27 home runs with Tampa last season, Corey Dickerson had only 6 in his 85 games of 2018. Then in last Sunday’s win over Milwaukee he hit his seventh, in his next game on Friday night in Cincinnati garnered his seventh, and tonight added two more - giving him four in his last three games, covering 16 plate appearances.

Both of Dickerson’s homers on Saturday night came off Reds’ starter Anthony DeSclafani, who’s displayed a problem keeping the ball in the park against left-handed batters. Dickerson’s first of the night and ninth of the season was a line drive hit at 103.7 mph that traveled 417 feet into the center field bushes and gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the third. Dickerson upped that to 3-0 with a smash at 111.4 mph down the right field line, extending the lead to 3-0.

Pirates’ starter Nick Kingham looked like he might be in for a short night when only one of the first sixteen pitches he threw in a steady first inning drizzle found the strike zone, although some of of the zone were fouled off. After the first two batters had walked, Joey Votto grounded into a 4-6-3 double play and Eugenio Suzrez lined to center on a 3-2 pitch to end the threat. 23 pitches, 10 strikes.

Kingham bounced back to need only five pitches in the second and ten in the third, while allowing only one hit, a ground double inside third by Jose Peraza.

Then the rains came down harder and play was stopped for 47 minutes. Kingham returned as if he’d never left. Sixteen pitches in the fourth, seven in the fifth and six in the sixth. The seventh looked like more of the same, but with Jesse Winker on first with one out Curt Casali ran the count 3-2 before lifting a popup to left. Only struck at 91.5 mph, it managed to carry 359 feet before landing a few inches over the top of the fence. Kingham’s night was done after 79 pitches, but between the start of the second inning up to Casali’s plate appearance, Kingham threw 49 pitches, 38 of them for strikes, over 5 13 innings.

Edgar Santana, Kyle Crick and Felipe Vazquez (in a non-save situation) wrapped it up on the mound, allowing two hits, no walks and five strikeouts over the final 2 23 innings of the game.

Besides Dickerson’s heroic’s, Josh Bell went four-for-four with a double, raising his batting average to .267

The Pirates’ latest victory raises their record to 50-49, ranking fifth in the National League Central, 8.0 games behind the Cubs, 5.0 out of the second Wild Card, and only half a game behind the third place Cardinals.

The Pirates go for a sweep at 1:10 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday as they send Ivan Nova (5-6, 4.38) out to face the Reds’ Matt Harvey (5-5, 4.63, 3.64 in 12 starts since being traded to the Reds)