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Pirates fall below .500 with 11-6 loss to Reds

Pittsburgh Pirates v Cincinnati Reds
Derek Dietrich
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Reds’ rookie right-hander Lucas Sims struck out nine Pirates, taking a shutout into the eighth, and Derek Dietrich slammed three home runs as the Cincinnati Reds downed visiting Pittsburgh 11-6.

*When opening the search box for photos, “Pittsburgh Pirates” provided me, on the first page of results, 10 images of Derek Dietrich saluting his home crowd.

And have a night he did.

Jordan Lyles started and was having the type of good game that Pirates’ fans have come to expect. With one out in the second, Jose Iglesias ripped a ground ball inside third that rattled around the left field corner as Iglesias sprinted to third fr a triple. After Tucker Barnhart’s high chop to the mound, Cincinnati led 1-0.

Lyles retired the next five batters without issue, but Eugenio Suarez led off the fourth with a double to the left field wall and on the very next pitch Dietrich launched one 392 feet into the right field stands for his 15th home run of the year, and a 3-0 Reds lead.

After then throwing 16 pitches to the next two batters, seven of them balls, Lyles appeared to stumble on the mound, necessitating an injury timeout. After a practice toss Lyles resumed, getting a strike out and ground out to end the inning, but his night was done.

Sims meanwhile was carving up the Pirates’ lineup. A 6.01 career major league ERA in 72 innings got Sims assigned to Triple-A to start the year, but there he excelled, striking out 63 batters in 44 innings, including 45% of the right-hand batters he had faced. On April 20th against Indianapolis where he struck out 13 without a walk in 5 23 innings, a night where Indy would fan 22 times.

Through four innings against the Pirates Sims had faced the minimum number of batters, allowing only one hit, a bloop to center by Starling Marte in the first, who was then thrown trying to advance to second on a bobble. Seven of the twelve batters went down on strikes, all swinging.

Sims only struck out one in the fifth through the seventh innings, but only allowed two hits, doubles by Josh Bell and Marte.

With Lyles nursing his discomfort, rookie Geoff Hartlieb came on for the fifth time in his major league career, and for the second time in two appearances threw nothing but batting practice. After the pitcher struck out to open the inning, it was double, double, a mound visit followed by a strikeout, then Dietrich’s second homer of the night, followed by a single, double off the wall and another single.

The Pirates’ batters showed signs of life late in the game, after the result was not in doubt. With Sims’ pitch count around only 80, he came back out for the eighth and was greeted by singles off the bats of Bryan Reynolds and Elias Diaz. After a mound visit and a fly out, Sims hit Jose Osuna with a pitch to load the bases before Kevin Newman slammed a ball to right-center field, just clearing the wall for a grand slam, the first home run of his major league career.

Diaz added a two-run double in the ninth, after a single by Jacob Stallings and a walk to Reynolds.

Dietrich added his third homer of the game, and 17th of the year, off Rookie Davis in th seventh.

The loss drops the Pirates’ record to 26-27, only one game ahead of Cincinnati for last place in the division.

The two teams conclude the series Wednesday at 12:35 p.m. Eastern, as Steven Brault (1-1, 7.11) is pressed into service against Anthony DeSclafani (2-2, 4.99)