PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jordan Luplow picked up the first two hits of his career, including a three-run home run in the eighth inning, to help the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday night.
Luplow beat out an infield single in the second for his first hit. His second went considerably farther, reaching the first row of seats in left-center field with two men aboard as Pittsburgh ended a four-game losing streak.
Starling Marte added three hits for Pittsburgh. A.J. Schugel (4-0) picked up the victory in relief.
John Jaso gave the Pirates the lead in the seventh, racing home from third when Cincinnati right-fielder Phillip Ervin’s throw to the plate sailed far off line. Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen (8-3) and catcher Stuart Turner collided attempting to stop the ball as it headed to the Pittsburgh dugout, leaving home plate uncovered.
Billy Hamilton had two hits for Cincinnati and stole two bases to boost his total to a major-league leading 58.
The Pirates hoped to enter September still in the playoff race but instead find themselves playing out the string and tinkering with the lineup as the season enters its final month. It’s how Luplow, who hit 23 home runs in the minors this season, found himself in right field.
Luplow began the night hitless in a dozen big-league at bats before beating out a grounder to shortstop in the second. Stepping in against Wandy Peralta with two on in the eighth, he sent a pitch from Peralta to one of the deepest parts of PNC Park as Pittsburgh beat the last-place Reds for just the fifth time in 15 meetings this season.
Pittsburgh starter Jameson Taillon entered with a 7.68 ERA since the All-Star break but delivered his best outing since June 29, pitching six shutout innings with one walk and four strikeouts.
Cincinnati rookie Tyler Mahle matched Taillon out for out. The 22-year-old held the Pirates scoreless for six innings in his second major-league start, giving up five singles and striking out three. Mahle received no run support from an offense that has been hit or miss of late. The Reds have scored at least seven runs four times in eight games but have also been shut out three times over the same stretch.
Reds: OF Jesse Winkler (strained left hip flexor) ran at PNC Park on Saturday as he works his way off the 10-day disabled list. Manager Bryan Price said Winkler, out since Aug. 25, will be re-evaluated on Sunday before determining the next step in his recovery.
Pirates: 2B Josh Harrison exited after taking a 96 mph fastball from Mahle off his left hand in the fifth inning. Harrison was examined by trainer Todd Tomczyk on the field after getting hit for the major-league leading 23rd time this season. Harrison remained in the game to run the bases but was pulled in the sixth in favor of Sean Rodriguez. Harrison will be evaluated by an orthopedic hand specialist.
Reds: Sal Romano (4-5, 4.91 ERA) goes for his third consecutive victory on Sunday. The rookie has gone at least six innings in five of his last six starts.
Pirates: Trevor Williams (5-7, 4.37) will look for his first win in five starts in the series finale. Williams is 0-3 with a 5.31 ERA during his slide.