Reds 5, Pirates 3
PITTSBURGH (AP)—Jose Guillen is making a living this season beating up on his former clubs.
Brian Giles had a two-run homer in the first off Danny Graves and Matt Stairs added a solo drive in the eighth off reliever Felix Heredia, but the Pirates wasted several other excellent scoring opportunities.
The Reds, no doubt ready to get off the road, won for only the third time in 10 games during a 12-game trip that winds up Thursday. They had lost four of five and seven of nine.
The score was tied at 2 when Guillen drove a 3-1 pitch by Julian Tavarez (0-3) into the seats in left-center. Tavarez hadn’t allowed a homer in 35 1-3 innings over 31 appearances or a hit in 8 1-3 innings until the eighth.
“I’ve faced him a lot in the Dominican Republic and here and he’s been really nasty,” Guillen said. “I was just trying to have a good at-bat and put the ball in play somewhere, and he threw me a slider. I got lucky.”
He’s been having a lot of such luck this season; he had a big series against another of his former teams as the Reds swept three games from the Devil Rays last month. In that series, he had a game-winning homer and made a run-preventing throw to the plate.
“This is the first opportunity I’ve had to play regularly since Pittsburgh traded me to Tampa Bay in (1999),” Guillen said. “This team has given me new life and a new opportunity and I’ve taken advantage of that.”
Reds manager Bob Boone calls Guillen “our fourth outfielder—but our best hitter.” Guillen, who has 15 homers and 41 RBIs, is 15-for-36 (.417) with three homers during the road trip.
Tavarez credited Guillen with finally getting a pitch to hit because of his patience, something he wasn’t known for during his break-in years with the Pirates from 1997-99.
“I tried to get him to chase some fastballs early in the count and I fell behind (3-1), then I threw a (pitch) that didn’t break, that just hung up in the zone where he could hit it,” Tavarez said.
Graves (4-7), starting for the first time in his career on three days’ rest, got the victory despite giving up nine hits in seven innings.
Graves’ velocity was the best it’s been all season despite not getting the extra day off, and Boone plans to keep starting him on three days’ rest for the time being.
“It’s only the first time, but it worked out great,” Graves said. “I hope it continues to work so well. … I really haven’t pitched on a regular five-day schedule, sometimes I’ve had six, seven, eight days off, but this seemed like it worked.”
Even before scoring four runs in the final three innings, Cincinnati had plenty of chances early. The Reds put 12 runners on base in five innings against Jeff D’Amico but scored only on Barry Larkin’s RBI single in the second. They stranded 14 runners.
Cincinnati finally tied it at 2 in the seventh as reliever Joe Beimel walked the first two batters he faced and Sean Casey delivered a two-out RBI single for the second of his three hits. He also singled and scored on Rainer Olmedo’s single in the ninth off Scott Sauerbeck.
Giles was 1-for-12 in his career against Graves and hadn’t homered in 16 games until he followed Jason Kendall’s double with a drive to right center in the first, his eighth homer.
After Graves was lifted, Scott Sullivan replaced Heredia to get the final out in the eighth. Scott Williamson pitched the ninth inning for his 19th save in 22 opportunities, getting Kendall to fly out and end the game with runners on first and second.
Giles, the Pirates’ left fielder, prevented at least another run from scoring in the ninth by slamming into the wall to run down Larkin’s long,two-out drive.
Graves pitched seven innings Friday against Cleveland, giving up two earned runs and six hits. … Guillen has hit .373 in 42 starts since April 24. … Casey, Giles and Stairs all had three hits. … Giles had gone 67 at-bats without homering. … The Reds and Pirates are in the same division, but hadn’t played until Tuesday since Pittsburgh swept a season-opening three-game series in Cincinnati three months ago. … Pirates CF Kenny Lofton was pulled in the eighth inning with a sore right calf after coming up limping on Olmedo’s leadoff single. There was no update on his injury after the game. … Stairs’ homer was his first off a left-hander since Sept. 2, 2000. His next 41 homerswere off right-handers.