PITTSBURGH (AP) – Guess Brandon Phillips’ thumb is OK.
The Cincinnati second baseman hit a long home run off Pittsburgh’s Rob Scahill in the top of the 13th to lift the Reds to a 5-4 win on Thursday night. Phillips had three of Cincinnati’s season-high 17 hits and started a double play in the eighth with a diving stop and a behind-the-back flip to shortstop Eugenio Suarez.
Not bad for a guy who sat out a game to give his thumb a rest following a collision at second base on Tuesday.
“He had a nice day, did a lot of good things,” Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said. “Made some great plays … It was good to see.”
Todd Frazier added three hits for the Reds, including a tying homer in the seventh off Pittsburgh reliever Arquimedes Caminero. The Pirates had been 35-3 when leading after six innings, but the Reds quickly tied it after Pittsburgh starter A.J. Burnett exited. Joey Votto led off with a single that turned into three bases when right fielder Josh Harrison overran the ball. Frazier then pounced on a 99 mph fastball from Caminero and sent it into the bleachers in left for his 24th homer.
“The guy was throwing heat and throwing hard,” Frazier said. “I get a fastball, I like to drive ’em and I got a pitch to hit. I squared it up and that’s all I’m trying to do every at-bat.”
Pedro Villarreal (1-2) worked two scoreless innings for his first major league win. The Reds improved to 7-2 against the Pirates this season and have won six of their last eight overall.
“It could be a season changer,” Frazier said. “We just keep fighting, we keep scrapping and hopefully by the end of the year we’ll be where we need to be.”
Harrison, Jordy Mercer and Jung Ho Kang had two hits each for the Pirates, but Pittsburgh left 12 runners on base and went 4 for 13 with runners in scoring position. The Pirates are 2-7 in extra-inning games and have lost five of six.
“We missed some opportunities tonight in some different areas,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said.
The Reds wasted plenty chances of their own. Cincinnati had at least one baserunner in all but two innings, including two on with no outs in the 11th only to come up empty. Phillips didn’t leave it up to chance with his first homer in nearly a month off Scahill (2-4).
Villarreal breezed through three outs in the bottom of the 13th to end the game that lasted 4 hours, 41 minutes, not including a 56-minute rain delay before it started.
“It’s definitely been a long road,” the 27-year-old Villarreal said. “Baseball’s like that. You get knocked down, you’ve just got to get back up and keep going.”
Pittsburgh starter A.J. Burnett labored through six innings, needing 110 pitches to get 18 outs. He failed to retire the Reds in order even once, but left with a 4-2 lead thanks in part to a two-run single he laced up the middle off Cincinnati’s Anthony DeSclafani in the second. It was the first multiple-RBI hit of Burnett’s 17-year career. The 38-year-old pitcher gave up two runs (one earned) against five strikeouts and two walks to lower his ERA to 2.01.
DeSclafani was more efficient but not as effective, allowing four runs (one earned) with two walks and five strikeouts. Pittsburgh tagged him for three in the second after a throwing error by shortstop Eugenio Suarez and another in the sixth on a run-scoring single by Francisco Cervelli. DeSclafani exited with the Reds trailing, but Pittsburgh’s typically reliable bullpen immediately gave the lead away.
JOHNNY B GOOD
Cincinnati ace Johnny Cueto will make his first start in nine days on Friday when the Reds begin a three-game set in New York against the Mets. Manager Bryan Price decided to have Cueto skip a turn in the rotation to give Cueto’s aching right arm some added rest. The problem isn’t when Cueto pitches, but during his off days. “When he’s in competition, there really hasn’t been any issues with fatigue or getting loose,” Price said. “It’s just really more than anything been the time in between his outings. We’re trying to get him back to feeling normal in between starts.”
Cueto (8-5, 2.98 ERA) is 5-5 with a 4.12 ERA in 10 career starts against the Mets.
Reds: Cincinnati has had its way with the Mets since New York moved to Citi Field in 2009, going 13-7 in the Mets’ new stadium. Phillips has hit safely in each of his 29 road games against New York, batting .350 (41-117) in the process, the second-longest hitting streak by a visitor in Mets’ history.
Pirates: Pittsburgh opens a three-game series with Atlanta on Friday. The Pirates took two of three from the Braves on the road earlier this month. Francisco Liriano (4-6, 3.26 ERA) is 2-1 with a 4.00 ERA in three starts against Atlanta. Liriano gave up five runs in his last start, a 6-0 loss to Washington in which the Pirates were no-hit by Max Scherzer.