PITTSBURGH (AP)—Austin Kearns certainly knows how to snap out of a slump in style.
“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 from Pittsburgh’s Ryan Vogelsong.
This time, Kearns got the better of the right-hander with a two-run single in the top of the first inning.
Vogelsong (6-13), who had not allowed a run in his last 12 innings coming in, faced only seven batters and failed to record an out for the first time in 32 career starts.
“Oh man, this is about as bad as it gets,” Vogelsong said. “You can’t do any worse than not getting anyone out and that’s about as drastic a change you can have.”
Before being pulled for left-hander Frank Brooks, Vogelsong faced just seven batters and allowed four hits and walked the other three. He threw 33 pitches, 12 for strikes, and saw his ERA jump from 6.19 to 6.68.
Cincinnati has won three straight, while Pirates have dropped four in a row and nine of 11. The Reds also tied their season highs in hits with 17 and runs.
Staked to a seven-run lead, Reds pitcher Aaron Harang (10-9) settled in to win his second straight start after losing six of his last seven. He also became the first Reds pitcher with 10 wins in a season since Jimmy Haynes had 15 and Ryan Dempster 10 in 2002.
“It’s great to have a lead like that,” Harang said. “You don’t have to worry about being too perfect. You can go out and be aggressive and go right at hitters. And if you make a mistake, it’s not going to kill you.”
He allowed six runs—five earned—and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings.
Casey went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI to give him 99 on the season. … LaRue needs one more RBI to tie his career high of 52 set in 2002. … Pittsburgh’s Jack Wilson went 2-for-2 including a third-inning RBI single, and is 10 hits shy of becoming the first Pirates player since Dave Parker in 1977 to get 200 in a season. … Dunn scored a run but struck out twice to raise his total for the season to 172. He needs 18 more to break Bobby Bonds’ single-season record of 189 set in 1970.