This time it went according to script as the Pirates jumped all over Cincinnati starter Cody Reed, scoring early and often, en route to a 7-3 win in taking the second of two games in the three game series.
Reed has been scorched by right-handed batters, but in the first inning he was touched up by the only two lefties in the Pirates’ order, as with one out the red-hot Adam Frazier doubled to left-center then Gregory Polanco rolled a ball through the left side to put runners at first and third. Francisco Cervelli then hit the same spot for another single to drive in Frazier for a 1-0 lead.
Meanwhile Joe Musgrove proved to be a bulldog on the mound as he fanned five of the first nine batters he faced and only allowed one hit through the first three innings.
It was there that Reed ran out of gas. After Musgrove opened the bottom of the third with a pop fly to left, Starling Marte beat out a slow roller to third and went to second when Frazier drew a walk on four pitches. Polanco then laced a ball down the right field line that one-hopped the wall, driving in both runners for a 3-0 lead. Polanco held second when Francisco Cervelli’s grounder was dropped by Eugenio Suarez at third, but was generously awarded a base hit. On a 1-1 pitch to Jose Osuna they pulled off a double steal, setting up the Osuna’s sacrifice fly on a ball to the warning tack in right.
The Pirates tacked on two more in the fourth when Pablos Reyes, playing third base in his first major league start, beat out a ground ball to the hole at short and two outs later trotted around the bases on Starling Marte’s 18th home run, driven to the seats in right-center field.
The final run came in the eighth when Jordan Luplow lined a single up the middle and raced all the way around on the little man Reyes’ line double off the Clemente Wall in right.
The Reds finally broke through against Musgrove in their third time around the batting order . With one out Scooter Gennett, who came into the game leading the National League in batting average, blasted his 21st home run of the season into the seats in right. Two more singles chased Musgrove and then Richard Rodriguez showed uncharacteristic wildness in Walking Tucker Barnhart then hitting Phillip Ervin with a pitch, forcing in a run with the bases loaded.
Gennett homered again in the eighth, taking Kyle Crick deep for the second time in two days. Solo homers by Gennett have accounted for three of the four runs that Cincinnati has scored in the first two games of the series.
Felipe Vazquez pitched a perfect ninth to wrap it up in a non-save situation.
The Pirates are well prepared to sweep the series on Wednesday night, as the Reds Homer Bailey (1-13, 6.13) faces Jameson Taillon (11-9, 3.45), who has allowed three or fewer runs in each of his last 17 starts, and in 21 of his last 22.