Anthony DeSclafani cut his home run-allowed total from three in each of his last two starts to just one in 5-2/3 innings on Wednesday.
Unfortunately for the Cincinnati right-hander, the homer was an opposite-field, three-run shot by Pittsburgh third baseman Colin Moran that snapped a sixth-inning scoreless tie.
First baseman Josh Bell added an opposite-field, three-run homer in the Pirates’ four-run seventh against Michael Lorenzen, and the Pirates went on to earn a split of the four-game series with a 7-2 win before a crowd of 15,252, many of whom sat through a 2-hour, 13-minute weather delay before the first pitch.
Cincinnati third baseman Eugenio Suarez strolled toward the mound after being hit by a Clay Holmes pitch leading off the eighth inning. Both teams stayed in their dugouts, but Reds manager David Bell was ejected for the fourth time this season, this time by third base umpire Jeff Nelson.
The Reds and Pirates brawled on April 7 in Pittsburgh when the teams traded brushback pitches after Derek Dietrich admired a long home run.
Suarez missed 16 days in April 2018 with a fractured right thumb after getting hit by a pitch in Pittsburgh.
Cincinnati had scored a combined 19 runs while winning the middle two games of the series, but Pittsburgh left-hander Steve Brault and three relievers put the brakes on the surge. They limited the Reds to fewer than three runs for the first time in 11 games since being shut out by the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 17.
Pitcher Tyler Mahle pinch-ran for Suarez and scored on Dietrich’s single to right, avoiding Cincinnati’s eighth shutout loss of the season. Senzel added a two-out solo homer in the ninth.
After taking Thursday off, the Reds are scheduled to open a three-game series against the Washington Nationals on Friday at 7:10 p.m. The right-handed Mahle (1-5, 4.15 earned-run average) is Cincinnati’s scheduled starter. Left-hander Patrick Corbin (5-2, 2.85) is expected to start for the Nationals, who were 23-32 and in fourth place in the NL East going into Wednesday night’s game at Atlanta.
Dietrich, who went into the game with seven homers against Pittsburgh this season, proved he also can do damage with his glove. The Pirates got runners on first and second with two outs in the second inning, but Dietrich made a diving stop to his left behind first base of Brault’s ground-hugger up the line, had trouble getting the ball out of his glove but still was able to make a backhand flip to DeSclafani to nip Brault for the final out.
Dietrich also made a heads-up play on Colin Moran’s grounder up the line with Melky Cabrera on first base. Dietrich grabbed the ball, stepped on the bag and started a rundown executed perfectly with shortstop Jose Iglesias.
Jose Peraza contributed a diving stop to his right of Starling Marte’s line drive to end the third inning.
Brault, who was 3-0 with a 1.27 earned-run average over two starts and six relief appearances in his career against Cincinnati, retired the first nine Reds he faced before Nick Senzel led off the fourth with a clean, opposite-field single to right. Cincinnati got Curt Casali to third and Jose Peraza to second with two outs in the fifth, but Senzel was thrown out by Brault trying to bunt for a hit.
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