Reds 9, Pirates 5
Edwin Encarnacion’s bases-loaded triple keyed Cincinnati’s comeback from an early three-run deficit, and Harang settled down to maintain his dominance of the Pittsburgh Pirates as the Reds won 9-5 Sunday.
After his team was shut out until the ninth inning of a 3-1 loss Friday, manager Jerry Narron predicted his club was ready to come out of its offensive slump. The Reds produced 17 runs and 25 hits in their last two games, including an 8-1 victory Saturday night.
“Everybody is swinging the bat good, we’ve got a lot of discipline at the plate, we’re swinging at pitches in the strike zone and that’s how we can be better with the bat,” said Encarnacion, who raised his average from .174 to .221 in two days. “If we keep throwing like that and keep hitting, we’re going to win a lot of games.”
Harang (4-0) benefited from the offensive support, helping himself with a run-scoring single in a five-run fourth that turned a 4-1 Reds deficit into a 6-4 lead.
“You get him down and have a chance to take him out and you let him get back up—you give a horse like him a second wind, like we did—you’re not going to get another chance,” Pirates manager Jim Tracy said.
The Pirates have scored nine runs in two games against Harang this season, but still can’t consistently beat him. The right-hander, 2-0 on the road this season after leading the NL with nine road victories last year, is 10-3 in his career against Pittsburgh.
Harang lasted eight-plus innings, giving up 10 hits, walking four and throwing three wild pitches. Last year’s NL strikeout leader fanned nine and has 36 Ks in six starts.
“I was able to go out there after the second inning and just be effective and keep my pitches down and move the ball around in the zone,” Harang said. “I wasn’t trying to overpower them, just keep the ball in play.”
Or exactly what Pirates starter Paul Maholm (1-3) didn’t do.
Maholm, coming off a three-hit shutout of the Astros on Tuesday that was easily the best start of his three-season career, gave up six runs and seven hits in four innings.
“It was one of those things where the game started going too fast and I didn’t slow it down,” Maholm said. “My breaking ball wasn’t good and when I got behind, I had to throw fastballs and that’s a disaster plan. Whenever it’s going bad, it kind of spirals out of control.”
Maholm’s two-run single against Harang helped the Pirates open a 4-1 lead by the third, but they were shut out after that until Ryan Doumit hit a solo homer leading off the ninth that chased Harang. Doumit went 4-for-4 with an RBI double.
Maholm had control issues in the pivotal fourth inning, walking Alex Gonzalez and Adam Dunn ahead of Encarnacion’s triple into the deepest part of the PNC Park outfield in left-center.
Dunn hit a two-run homer an inning later off Shawn Chacon for his sixth of the season, and Gonzalez hit his second of the year in the seventh, also off Chacon.
David Weathers got the final three outs for Cincinnati, but admittedly did so with a heavy heart—he was friends with Josh Hancock, the Cardinals pitcher and former Reds reliever who died early Sunday in a car crash. Weathers and his family spent a half-hour with Hancock before a game last week in St. Louis.
“It’s just a tough day,” Weathers said. “You can’t get it out of your mind. Sometimes I see his picture up there (on TV), and it’s so unreal. … He’s 29 years old, the kid’s got his whole life ahead of him and for this to happen … it truly is tragic.”
There was a moment of silence before the game for Hancock, who pitched for the Reds in 2004 and 2005.
Reds OF Ken Griffey Jr. did not start any of the three games in the series because of a chest problem. … The Pirates won the first four games of their current nine-game homestand, but dropped the last two and are 4-6 at PNC Park. … The Pirates are 11-12 in April and must beat the Cubs on Monday to avoid their fifth consecutive April without a winning record. … Encarnacion is 5-for-8 since stopping an 0-for-11 slide with two hits Saturday night. … The Reds are 4-2 against the Pirates this season. … Harang also beat the Pirates 7-5 on April 7, despite lasting only 5 2-3 innings. … A fan made a one-handed grab of Josh Hamilton’s bat when it sailed into the crowd during the ninth.