Pirates 9, Reds 5

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CINCINNATI (AP)—Now that they’ve hit town, the Pittsburgh Pirates have fixed the problems that were dragging them down.

What’s wrong with the Cincinnati Reds? Don’t even get started.

Xavier Nady hit a three-run homer Saturday night during another disastrous first inning by right-hander Bronson Arroyo, leading the Pirates to a 9-5 victory.

The Pirates scored four runs in their best first inning of the season, one day after they rallied to victory with their biggest splurge in three years. Pittsburgh scored eight runs in the 10th inning for a 10-4 victory in the series opener.

“We’ve done a much better job,” manager Jim Tracy said. “We were 7-for-15 with runners in scoring position, and we drove in eight runs in the 4-5-6 spots. That’s pretty intriguing to see. That’s very encouraging to see.”

Jason Bay had three hits and drove in three runs for the Pirates, who arrived in Cincinnati with a five-game losing streak but have done an about-face against the major leagues’ worst team. The Reds have lost a season-high five in a row and 19 of 24 overall.

And, they have no idea what to make of Arroyo.

“I don’t know,” catcher David Ross said. “I wish I had the answers. He ‘s not getting the pitches he wants over for strikes. He’s getting behind in the count, and when he does get ahead, he’s not putting guys away. It’s one of those things where you turn around and you don’t really know what happened.”

For the second start in a row, Arroyo (2-5) let the opposition bat around in a four-run first inning. In the homestand opener on Monday, the right-hander threw 49 pitches and faced 10 batters in Washington’s four-run first.

It was similar on Saturday. The Pirates sent nine batters to the plate, scored four runs and forced Arroyo to throw 33 pitches. Bay doubled home a run, and Nady followed with his second homer in two days.

“Physically, I feel pretty good,” Arroyo said. “I’ve felt pretty average the last two starts. The ball just doesn’t feel crisp coming out of my hand. It’s just one of those things where I’m going through a spell, and with the kind of season we’ve had, it just gets magnified.”

Left-hander John Grabow (1-1) got the victory in relief of Shawn Chacon, who lasted 3 2-3 innings in his first start of the season. Chacon was moved from the bullpen to replace struggling Tony Armas in the rotation.

“I was real excited before the game,” said Chacon, who left after throwing 80 pitches. “The Adrenalin got to me.”

Pittsburgh came into the series struggling to get hits with the bases loaded, but have pawned that problem off on Cincinnati. The Reds loaded the bases in the third, fourth and fifth innings, but managed only a pair of runs on walks.

Scott Hatteberg hit a solo homer, the 100th of his career, in the eighth off Matt Capps. Edwin Encarnacion and Alex Gonzalez hit back-to-back solo homers off Brian Rogers in the ninth. Salomon Torres got the final three outs.

The Reds are 1-5 on a homestand against Washington and Pittsburgh, two other downtrodden teams. The poor showing has brought catcalls for the bullpen and calls for manager Jerry Narron’s firing.

Narron signed autographs before the first pitch, then watched Arroyo—who led the NL in innings last season—implode again. Pittsburgh’s four-run first was its best opening inning since it scored four at Wrigley Field last Sept. 4 in a 5-4 win over the Cubs.

Arroyo lasted a career-low two innings on Monday against Washington. He went four innings on Saturday, giving up seven hits and six runs along with four walks. Arroyo failed to strike out a batter for the first time since 2005.

Adam LaRoche added a solo homer for Pittsburgh in the ninth.

Notes

Pirates C Ryan Doumit was out of the lineup, a day after he was hit in the head by Ryan Freel’s bat at the end of a swing. “I feel good, though,” he said. “All is clear. All is well.” Manager Jim Tracy isn’t sure how long he will be out. … LHP Tom Gorzelanny played catch in the outfield before the game and reported no problems. Gorzelanny bruised his left thumb on a comebacker Thursday night, but he’s expected to make his scheduled start on Tuesday against San Diego. … Reds OF Josh Hamilton expects to head to Triple-A Louisville to start playing on Monday. Hamilton went on the 15-day DL with an inflamed digestive tract. He will play in the minors until he’s eligible to return on June 3.

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