Austin Kearns has not had a memorable season, but he wants to finish up strong.
Kearns went 4-for-5, including his seventh homer of the season, and drove in a career-high five runs Friday to lead the Reds to a 14-8 win in the series opener.
“I was just trying to relax and hit the ball hard,” Kearns said. “I felt I hit the ball better (Thursday) in Atlanta.”
Since being reinstated from the 60-day disabled list on Aug. 24, Kearns was batting .236 with three homers and seven RBIs and was only 1-for-8 in the first three games of the Reds’ 10-game road trip.
“At least it looked like I had a clue up there instead of two days ago when I was swinging at everything,” Kearns said. “I just got some pitches I could hit and didn’t try to do too much and that’s the worst thing I’ve been trying to do is trying to do too much.”
Kearns, who underwent surgery July 2 to remove a bone spur from the base of his right thumb, also went on the 15-day disabled list in late April after he broke his left forearm when he was hit by a pitch.
The Pirates hope Dave Williams can end their skid. Williams allowed just three hits over six scoreless innings Sunday in a 6-1 win over the New York Mets. He struck out seven and walked two. The 25-year-old left-hander said he felt tightness in his left calf, but was able to pitch through it.
“I just kept a watch on it,” Williams said. “I felt like I could still compete. I don’t think it is anything big. (The trainers) looked at it and iced it down. We’ll go from there.”