Cozart leads power surge with 2 homers, Reds beat Bucs 4-2
CINCINNATI (AP) Solo home runs don’t bug Chad Kuhl.
Four in one game is a problem
Cincinnati scored all of its runs on solo homers off the Pittsburgh right-hander, two by Zack Cozart, and the Reds beat the Pirates 4-2 on Friday night.
Joey Votto and Scott Schebler both homered, sending the Pirates to their third straight loss and eighth in the last nine games.
”They did some damage on balls out over the plate,” Kuhl said. ”Luckily, they were only solos shots. They’re tough to swallow, but I’ll take those over bigger ones any day.”
Allowing any kind of home run is rare for the second-year pitcher. Four homers is a single-game career-high. He previously hadn’t allowed more than two in any game and yielded only four over a combined 12 starts in July and August.
”He made some mistakes in the zone in a hitter-friendly ballpark,” manager Clint Hurdle said. ”Four solo shots – at least he kept the traffic off in front of them. The guys that hit them have been doing it. All four balls were lifted on mistakes that were up.”
The Reds reached Kuhl (7-11) for eight hits with three walks and six strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.
Homer Bailey allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings for his first win in six starts since Aug. 11. Riding an effective split-finger fastball, Bailey (5-8) gave up five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. He also hit a batter.
”I had really good command,” he said. ”I threw some good splits. We have such a good defense. It allows me to be more aggressive.”
Michael Lorenzen came in to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth and allowed a hit and a walk with two strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings. Raisel Iglesias allowed a run in 1 2/3 innings on Adam Frazier’s ninth-inning, two-out triple, before getting Jordan Luplow to line out to left field for his 27th save.
The Pirates left nine men on base and were 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position while scoring just two runs for the third straight game.
”We couldn’t string at-bats together,” Hurdle said. ”We saw 170 pitches tonight. It’s hard to only score two runs when you see 170 pitches.”
Cozart went into the game with a career-high 20 home runs and added two in consecutive at-bats in the third, snapping a 1-1 tie, and fifth innings.
”It feels good to be mostly healthy at this point in the season,” the 32-year-old All-Star starter said. ”The biggest thing is not chasing hits. I’m putting a good swing on it, and if I make an out, I make an out. I wasn’t looking for a pitch honestly. He was throwing 97 (mph), and I’d never faced him before. I wanted to see what he had. At that speed, all I wanted to do was put the barrel of the bat on the ball.”
Votto gave the Reds a 1-0 lead in the first inning with his 35th of the season. Schebler added his 27th with two outs in the fifth. Both came on first pitch of the at-bat.
Votto’s was his 11th first-pitch homer of the season, but Kuhl still was surprised that normally patient left-hander took a rip so early in the count.
”A little bit,” Kuhl said. ”He was ready to hit it.”
MAKE HIM WORK
Frazier, Pittsburgh’s leadoff batter, fouled off eight of nine pitches and saw 13 from Bailey before lining out to right field to lead off the game.
Votto’s home run left him two short of matching the career-high 37 which he finished his 2010 MVP season. Votto also is two runs batted in short of matching the 97 he piled up last season.
Cozart’s two home runs gave him four in his last five games and five in his last nine. He has hit five of the Reds’ last 10 home runs. The multi-homer game was his third of the season and fifth of his career.
BLACK AND BLUE
A replay review confirmed that Bailey grazed Gregory Polanco with a pitch in the sixth inning. Pirates have been hit by pitches a major league-leading 82 times this season.
Pirates: C Francisco Cervelli, on the disabled list since Aug. 26 with left quad irritation, is day-to-day and working on sharpening his defensive skills, Hurdle said Friday.
Reds: 2B Scooter Gennett took batting practice before Friday’s game but missed his third straight start with left hand inflammation.
Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (11-13) is 0-3 with a 6.35 ERA in three starts this season against Cincinnati and 0-7 in his last seven road starts.
Reds: RHP Sal Romano (4-6) is 0-2 with a combined 3.86 ERA in two starts this season against Pittsburgh.
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