Romano pitches Reds to 2-1 victory over Nova, Pirates

CINCINNATI (AP) — Sal Romano pitched a career-high eight shutout innings, Jesse Winker homered and the Cincinnati Reds beat the reeling Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 on Saturday.

Romano (5-6) allowed five hits, struck out six and walked none while improving to 3-1 over his last six starts. Elias Diaz’s one-out double in the fifth was the only runner to get past first base against the rookie right-hander.

Pittsburgh avoided a shutout when Andrew McCutchen hit his 26th homer in the ninth. But Cody Reed came in with a runner on first and retired Gregory Polanco on a grounder to second for his first career save.

The Reds won back-to-back games for the first time since sweeping Milwaukee in a three-game series that ended on Sept. 6.

The Pirates wasted a terrific start by Ivan Nova in their fourth consecutive loss. McCutchen and Diaz each had two hits.

Nova had allowed one hit and faced the minimum 18 batters before Winker led off the seventh with a drive to right for his sixth homer.

Zack Cozart followed with a double. Joey Votto then flied out and Eugenio Suarez walked before Nova (11-14) departed with right calf discomfort after talking on the mound with a trainer and manager Clint Hurdle.

Scooter Gennett, playing for the first time since Tuesday after being sidelined by a hand injury, greeted Dan Gunzler with an RBI single into center field for Cincinnati’s second run.

Nova retired his first 11 batters before Votto singled to left. Votto then was picked off first base by catcher Diaz to end the fourth inning.

Nova allowed three hits, struck out six and walked one. He dropped to 1-6 in his last seven starts.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: LF Starling Marte was getting treatment for discomfort in a finger and shoulder after leaving Tuesday’s game in Milwaukee due to an awkward headfirst slide. He was planning to take some swings on Sunday to see if he might be available, Hurdle said.

Reds: CF Billy Hamilton’s fractured left thumb has improved enough that he might be able to return to the lineup before the season ends. He got hurt on Sept. 6.

UP NEXT

Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (11-10) starts the series finale Sunday. He is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts this month.

Reds: RHP Robert Stephenson (4-5) was roughed up for five hits and six runs — four earned — in three innings in his last start at St. Louis on Tuesday.