The Pirates got to Reds’ starter Homer Bailey early Wednesday and made it hold up for a 3-2 win to complete the three game sweep of Cincinnati at home.
It is the first time the Pirates swept a team since their last series against the Reds on July 20-22.
Jameson Taillon (12-9) allowed a solo shot to Jose Peraza in the first and had to scatter eight hits on the night, but that was the only run he allowed in his five innings of work. He struck out six, threw 14 first pitch strike to the 24 batters he faced and retired four on three pitches or fewer.
Taillon’s day started with a 29 pitch first inning and ended by throwing 100 pitches on the night.
“They jacked his pitch count up, but it’s not like they were banging him by any means,” Clint Hurdle said. “Very, very strong performance just as far as will. Will and finding a way to keep us in the game and keep them at one.”
Taillon knew he was going to have to work for this game from the get-go.
“Sometimes, you know based off how your first inning goes whether it’s going to be a grind or not,” Taillon said. “Whenever Votto started fouling some pitches off, I was like, ‘All right, man. This is one of those nights.’”
It is the 18th straight start where Taillon has allowed three earned runs or fewer.
The Pirates got on the board in the second on a two out double by Colin Moran, plating Corey Dickerson. They struck for two more runs against Bailey in the third on RBI knocks by Gregory Polanco and Francisco Cervelli.
“We did enough to win tonight, offensively,” Hurdle said.
Bailey took the loss in his seventh straight outing (1-14), but picked up his 1,000th career strikeout by fanning Taillon in the fourth inning.
Steven Brault tossed two innings of hitless and scoreless relief before handing the ball off to Edgar Santana, who faced the minimum in the eighth.
Felipe Vazquez got into trouble by allowing a run on a Dilson Herrera double with nobody out in the ninth, but he wriggled out of a bases loaded jam by getting Scooter Gennett to ground out back to the mound, good for his 30th save of the season.
Wednesday marked the return of Santana, who had not pitched in a game since Aug. 29. It was a planned hiatus since he is leading the team in appearances, 63, which is already tied for a career high for him between the minors and the majors.
His night got off to a shaky start with a line drive hit into the gap by Gennett, but he was thrown out when he could not hold second base.
Santana struck out the other two batters he faced.
“Early on I felt a little tired, but after a couple pitches, I felt the same,” Santana said.
“Loved it. Absolutely loved it,” Hurdle said on Santana’s night. “He came in and got after it.”
Some quick notes from Wednesday’s presser with Director of Sports Medicine Tom Tomczyk:
RHP Chad Kuhl (right forearm and elbow) had a 30 pitch bullpen session on Monday, throwing only fastballs off a mound. The next step is mixing in offspeed pitches. While the clock is ticking, Tomczyk still is trying to get him into a game situation before the season is through. “Obviously we’re running out of days in the season, but the goal for us and the goal for Chad is to get him in to some type of competition, whether that’s meaningful innings in the major league season [or elsewhere].”
Elias Diaz (right hamstring) is “truly day-to-day,” but his future in 2018 is up in the air. “Not saying he’s shut down for the rest of the season, but we’re working through what [it] looks like for him to get in a good spot for the remainder of this [season] or next.”
Jung-Ho Kang (left wrist) is taking dry swings, but has not been cleared to hit. He has transitioned his rehab down to Florida now that the AAA Indianapolis Indians season is over.
The Pirates get a day off Thursday before playing host to the Miami Marlins Friday. Chris Archer (4-7, 4.56) will go for the Bucs, while the Marlins will start Dan Strailey (5-6, 4.13). First pitch is at 7:05 p.m..
- Taillon has a 12-1 record this year when the Pirates give him at least three runs of support.
- Cervelli caught Mason Williams trying to steal to end the sixth inning. That’s his 21st caught stealing this season- the second most in the National League (Cubs’ Wilson Contreras has 22 CS, but has also allowed 41 stolen bases compared to Cervelli’s 31 SB).
- Moran’s second inning double was just his fifth extra-base hit since July 9 (cap tip to Bucs Dugout’s very own Jason Rollison).