|Cincinnati (87-57) «||0||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||x||2||6||0|
Homer Bailey pitched seven solid innings and Cincinnati came up with just enough offense to squeeze out a 2-1 victory for a three-game sweep of the Pirates.
"I felt like it was a battle all night," Bailey said.
The Reds (87-57) scored both of their runs on outs while moving 30 games over .500 for the first time since they were 96-66 on Oct. 3, 1999. They widened their lead in the NL Central on second-place St. Louis to 11½ games.
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Manager Dusty Baker doesn't want to stop there.
"This was our fifth try at 30," he said. "We finally reached it. Now let's set the next goal for 35."
Cincinnati's victory and the Cardinals' 3-2 loss at San Diego cut to eight the Reds' magic number for clinching the division. Any combination of Reds victories and Cardinals losses adding up to eight clinches the title for Cincinnati.
Bailey (11-9) allowed six hits and one run with two walks and four strikeouts to extend his career high in victories.
"It was awesome," said Hoover, one of the relievers filling in as closer while Aroldis Chapman deals with a tired shoulder. "It was a good adrenaline rush."
Hoover is a Pittsburgh-area native, but he didn't attach any extra significance to reaching the milestone against his hometown team.
"It was fun, but I didn't look at it like that," he said.
Pittsburgh starter A.J. Burnett suffered his first loss in four decisions against the Reds this season, two in games started by Bailey. Burnett (15-7), 0-3 in five starts since beating Los Angeles on Aug. 16, allowed five hits and two runs with two walks and eight strikeouts.
"It was a well-pitched game on Homer's side," Burnett said. "You have to tip your hat."
The score was tied at 1 when Ryan Ludwick led off Cincinnati's sixth with a double down the left-field line. He tagged and went to third on Jay Bruce's fly ball to deep center field then tagged and scored on Scott Rolen's sacrifice fly down the left-field line.
The Reds cashed in a bit of good fortune to take a 1-0 lead in the third inning. Ryan Hanigan led off with a lined single to center field and moved to second one out later on Brandon Phillips' bouncer up the middle. Both runners moved up on Burnett's wild pitch, and Hanigan scored on Wilson Valdez's chopper to second.
Baker was impressed with some execution from his team that he wasn't seeing earlier in the season.
"You've got to do those things if you're going to win close ballgames," he said. "[The Pirates] were doing it earlier this season. It's nice to get the sweep and get one step closer."
They missed another scoring opportunity in the sixth when Alex Presley tripled down the right-field line with one out and was caught stealing home when Clint Barmes couldn't get his bat on a suicide squeeze attempt. Baker and bench coach Chris Speier smelled it and ordered a pitchout, which also turned into a disaster when Bailey's foot slipped on the mound and the high-and-away pitch suddenly was low-and-away, but Ryan Hanigan still caught it in time to block the plate.
"All the credit goes to Dusty and Speier," Bailey said. "Hanigan did a great job. He ended up with chalk and dirt all over his face."
Barmes did what he could to get his bat on the pitch.
"It looked like it may have been way outside," he said. "I still almost got a piece of it."
Those are the kinds of plays that haven't gone the Pirates' way during their now season-worst six-game losing streak, which has left manager Clint Hurdle willing to look anywhere for a spark
"We tried to scratch out a run," Hurdle said. "It was a good call by them."
|Homer Bailey quiets the Pirates through seven innings and the Reds extend their already formidable NL Central lead. (Getty Images)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Brock Holt, 2B||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.364|
|Josh Harrison, 3B||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.232|
|a- Travis Snider, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.259|
|Tony Watson, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jason Grilli, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Andrew McCutchen, CF||4||1||2||0||0||0||0||.340|
|Garrett Jones, RF||4||0||1||0||0||0||1||.283|
|Gaby Sanchez, 1B||4||0||1||1||0||0||0||.222|
|Alex Presley, LF||3||0||1||0||1||1||2||.238|
|Clint Barmes, SS||3||0||0||0||0||1||1||.221|
|b- Jeff Clement, PH||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.154|
|Chase d'Arnaud, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Rod Barajas, C||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||.196|
|c- Starling Marte, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.231|
|Jared Hughes, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jordy Mercer, 3B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.196|
|d- Jose Tabata, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.239|
|A.J. Burnett, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||3||.056|
|e- Michael McKenry, PH-C||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.252|
|a-grounded out for Harrison in the 8th|
|b-singled for Barmes in the 9th|
|c-struck out for Barajas in the 7th|
|d-struck out for Mercer in the 9th|
|e-flied out for Burnett in the 7th|
|3B - Alex Presley (6, Bailey)|
|RBI - Gaby Sanchez (26)|
|CS - Alex Presley (6, Home by Bailey/Hanigan)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|E - Garrett Jones (8, Misplayed grounder)|
|A.J. Burnett (L,15-7)||6||5||2||2||2||8||0||3.66|
|WP - A.J. Burnett (8)|
|Pitches-Strikes - A.J. Burnett 101-63, Jared Hughes 19-12, Tony Watson 14-9, Jason Grilli 6-3|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - A.J. Burnett 7-3, Jared Hughes 2-0, Tony Watson 1-0|
|Batters Faced - A.J. Burnett 25, Jared Hughes 4, Tony Watson 3, Jason Grilli 1|
|Brandon Phillips, 2B||4||0||2||0||0||1||1||.295|
|Wilson Valdez, SS||4||0||1||1||0||1||1||.201|
|Joey Votto, 1B||3||0||1||0||1||1||3||.339|
|Ryan Ludwick, LF||3||1||1||0||1||2||2||.275|
|J.J. Hoover, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jay Bruce, RF||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.261|
|Scott Rolen, 3B||3||0||0||1||0||2||1||.240|
|Chris Heisey, CF-LF||3||0||0||0||0||2||1||.284|
|Ryan Hanigan, C||3||1||1||0||0||0||0||.290|
|Homer Bailey, P||1||0||0||0||1||1||1||.115|
|a- Henry Rodriguez, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.200|
|Sam LeCure, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Drew Stubbs, CF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.217|
|a-grounded out for Bailey in the 7th|
|2B - Ryan Ludwick (25, Burnett)|
|SF - Scott Rolen (3)|
|RBI - Wilson Valdez (14), Scott Rolen (35)|
|SB - Brandon Phillips (14, 2nd base off Hughes/McKenry)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|Homer Bailey (W,11-9)||7||6||1||1||2||4||0||3.93|
|Sam LeCure (H,6)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||2.96|
|J.J. Hoover (S,1)||1||1||0||0||0||1||0||2.08|
|IBB - Barajas by Homer Bailey|
|Pitches-Strikes - Homer Bailey 116-78, Sam LeCure 12-9, J.J. Hoover 18-13|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Homer Bailey 9-7, Sam LeCure 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Homer Bailey 28, Sam LeCure 3, J.J. Hoover 4|
|Attendance - 21203|
|Game Time - 3:18|
|Temperature - 83|
|Umpires - Home - Manny Gonzalez, First Base - Greg Gibson, Second Base - Phil Cuzzi, Third Base - Gerry Davis|