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Published: Saturday, June 16, 2018 @ 10:15 PM
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle insists he hasn’t been keeping close tabs of his team’s slide following a hot start. He wasn’t aware the Pirates had dropped eight straight series until someone mentioned it to him earlier in the week.
“If somebody would have told me you’re going to lose eight series, you’d think you’re going to be horrible,” Hurdle said. “We’re not horrible. We’re fighting. And we believe that our best baseball is in front of us.”
It is, at least when the Pirates play the struggling Cincinnati Reds. Josh Harrison hit a two-run homer, Colin Moran and Elias Diaz added solo shots and the Pirates pulled away for a 6-2 victory on Saturday to push their modest winning streak to three and assuring themselves of their first positive series since taking a two-game set from the Chicago White Sox a month ago.
Moran and Diaz both went deep off Luis Castillo (4-8) to give Pittsburgh the lead. Harrison hit his fourth of the season off reliever Austin Brice in the sixth. The Cincinnati native finished 2 for 4 is hitting .368 (14 for 38) against the Reds.
Ivan Nova (4-5) worked through heavy traffic on a day his breaking ball abandoned him to last six innings and pick up his second victory in as many starts since returning from the 10-day disabled list with a sprained right ring finger. Nova allowed only Eugenio Suarez’s 13th home run in the second, striking out three while giving up three walks.
Castillo struggled keeping the ball on the right side of the fence at PNC Park, a problem that’s plagued the 25-year-old all season. He’s now allowed at least one home run in 15 of his 18 starts.
“It’s surprising because I’m trying to do my best and every time I get out there, I give up one or two home runs,” Castillo said after dropping his fourth straight decision. “I really don’t know what’s happening right now. I’m just going to keep working in the bullpen and keep doing my best trying to help.”
Rookie Brandon Dixon hit his first major league home run off Pittsburgh reliever Michael Feliz in the ninth and Jesse Winker had two of Cincinnati’s seven hits to snap out of an 0-for-13 skid, but the Reds had issues taking advantage against Nova.
Cincinnati went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position and is now 0 for 19 with runners in scoring position in the series.
“We’ve just got to get it going,” Reds manager Jim Riggleman said. “You go through these things. We’ve got a good offensive ball club. We’ve shown it many times. We’re just in a little funk here where we’re not getting some timely hits.”
Moran broke a tie with his fourth home run of the season and first since June 2 when he sent Castillo’s pitch into the bullpen beyond the centerfield fence leading off the second. Diaz made it 3-1 when his fifth home run led off the third.
The Reds had their opportunities against Nova. They loaded the bases in the fourth only to have Billy Hamilton ground out to first to end the threat. Scott Schebler led off the fifth with a double but couldn’t get home and Hamilton came to the plate in the sixth with two runners on only to fly out to left field.
Hamilton finished 0 for 4 as his averaged dipped to .187.
Reds: Anthony DeSclafani (1-1, 5.40 ERA) starts the series finale on Sunday. The 28-year-old picked up his first victory since 2016 in his previous start against St. Louis.