CINCINNATI (AP)—Six innings from his injured starting pitcher, a bullpen-saving three more from one reliever and 11 runs from his offense.
For Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker, that added up to a perfect night.
Craig Tatum(notes) drove in four runs to double his previous career total and Justin Lehr(notes) overcame a sore groin and control problems as Baker’s Reds sent the Pittsburgh Pirates to their sixth consecutive loss, 11-5 on Tuesday night.
“That was a perfect night in a whole lot of ways,” Baker said. “We needed to score some runs. We needed a good pitching performance. We got a couple of big double plays. That was a perfect night.”
Pittsburgh is four defeats shy of becoming the first major American professional team to string together 17 straight losing seasons. Cincinnati has won three straight and eight of 10.
Wladimir Balentien(notes) hit a two-run homer, Jonny Gomes(notes) had three hits and Paul Janish(notes) and Kevin Barker(notes) also drove in two runs each as the Reds reached double figures in runs for the third time this season and scored their most since setting a season high in a 13-5 win May 11 at Arizona.
Lehr (4-1) lasted six innings despite hurting his groin on the second pitch of the game. He finished with five walks, one short of the six he allowed in his first career start July 31. He also gave up six hits and four runs with two strikeouts.
“He battled,” said Tatum, Cincinnati’s catcher. “He didn’t use it as a crutch.”
The pain came and went, Lehr said.
“I didn’t think it was bad enough that I couldn’t keep making pitches,” he said. “It felt good at times, and I was able to get into a rhythm.”
Micah Owings(notes) allowed one run over the final three innings for the first save of his five-year professional career. That gave Baker the opportunity to rest relievers such as Arthur Rhodes(notes) and Nick Masset(notes), who pitched in both games of Monday’s day-night doubleheader sweep of the Pirates.
For the second consecutive game, the Reds sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning. They scored four runs on Tuesday, one more than in the first inning of Monday’s second game. Barker and Gomes each had RBI singles before Tatum grounded a two-run single up the middle with the bases loaded.
The Reds got one of those runs back in the bottom half when Gomes scored from third on Tatum’s groundout.
Tatum drove in Gomes from second with a two-out single in the fifth.
“I needed this,” Tatum said. “I’ve been working hard on staying through the ball. I’d been hitting a lot of popups—getting under the ball. If you hit the ball on the ground, you can make something happen.”
McCutchen added his fourth walk in the ninth, tying Pittsburgh’s single-game season high.
Morton (3-7) matched his season high by issuing four walks. He also allowed nine hits and six runs in five innings for the last-place Pirates.
“I didn’t make pitches when I needed to,” Morton said. “I kept falling behind, and it kind of snowballed. After the first inning I had to keep throwing zeros, and I didn’t do that. It was one of those nights. It was hard to find a rhythm.”
Morton’s rough start was one of too many seen by manager John Russell on what has become an 0-5 road trip after a 7-2 homestand.
“On the homestand, they all pitched great,” Russell said about Pittsburgh’s starters. “Then we hit the road. Teams go through streaks like that.”
The Reds broke it open against Chris Bootcheck(notes) in the sixth on Janish’s two-run double and Barker’s sacrifice fly. Balentien added his second homer of the season and first in 63 at-bats since Aug. 4 in the seventh off Virgil Vasquez(notes).
NOTES: Pittsburgh recalled Vasquez and 3B Neil Walker from Triple-A Indianapolis, the first day major league teams could expand active rosters from 25 to 40 players. Walker was the team’s first-round pick and the 11th overall selection in the 2004 draft. He was denied a hit in his first at-bat on a diving stop by 2B Brandon Phillips(notes). … Reds 1B Joey Votto(notes), mired in a 0-for-15 slump that matched the longest hitless streak of his career, got the night off. … Morton’s RBI was the first of his career in his 38th at-bat. … Pittsburgh’s next home run will be the 10,000th in franchise history.