PITTSBURGH (AP) – Andrew McCutchen and Francisco Cervelli homered during a fourth-inning outburst and the Pittsburgh Pirates ended a three-game losing streak with a 7-6 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
Cervelli hit a three-run homer off Cincinnati rookie starter Josh Smith and McCutchen followed with a two-run shot off reliever Pedro Villarreal (0-2). McCutchen and Josh Harrison had two hits each for Pittsburgh.
Rob Scahill (2-3) earned the win in relief of ineffective starter Jeff Locke. Mark Melancon worked a perfect ninth to pick up his major league-leading 24th save.
Jay Bruce homered and drove in three runs for the Reds. Cincinnati left 12 men on base and went just 4 for 17 with runners in scoring position. Smith struggled with his command in his debut and Pittsburgh eventually took advantage.
The 27-year-old career minor leaguer went an eventful three-plus innings a few hours after being called up from Triple-A Louisville to fill in for Johnny Cueto, who is skipping a start to give his aching elbow a break. Smith worked around five walks in the first three innings before unraveling in the fourth. Pedro Alvarez smacked an RBI double off the wall to get the Pirates going and Cervelli followed with a three-run shot to the Cincinnati bullpen in center to tie the game at 4.
Smith left but Pittsburgh’s outburst continued. McCutchen’s ninth home run capped the Pirates’ biggest inning of the year, as a four-run deficit turned into a 7-4 lead.
It also helped erase a shaky start by Locke, who gave up four runs in four innings. Some spotty defense behind him didn’t help, though it could have been worse.
The Reds left seven runners on with Locke on the mound. Scahill wasn’t much better but Pittsburgh’s bullpen managed to slog the rest of the way, retiring eight of the last nine Cincinnati batters on strikeouts as the Pirates recovered from an ugly sweep in Washington over the weekend – including getting no-hit by Max Scherzer – to win their seventh straight home game.
Reds: Cincinnati manager Brian Price said Cueto – who is 18-4 with a 2.13 ERA against the Pirates – could have pitched but the team felt its ace would benefit from a few extra days off to give right elbow a little more time to rest. “He’s not feeling like he has his maximum amount of strength, so we’re just trying to build that up right now,” Price said. “It just makes sense for us right now.” Cueto’s next scheduled start is Friday against the New York Mets. … Rookie RHP Raisel Iglesias (strained left oblique) and LHP Tony Cingrani (strained left shoulder) are both on track to return before the All-Star break.
Pirates: Top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon is out indefinitely with what general manager Neal Huntington described as lower abdominal discomfort. Taillon, the team’s top pick in the 2010 first-year player draft, is recovering from Tommy John surgery in his right elbow. He was scheduled to start in the Gulf Coast League on Tuesday.
The series continues on Wednesday when Cincinnati’s Mike Leake (4-4, 4.01 ERA) faces Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole (11-2, 1.78 ERA). Cole leads the majors in victories and has won each of his last six starts but is 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA in four career starts against the Reds, including a 3-0 loss to Leake on May 6. Leake is 7-3 with a 3.10 ERA in 22 starts against Pittsburgh, including a 2-3 mark at PNC Park. Leake is coming off seven shutout innings in a win over Miami last Friday.
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