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Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

Scoreboard
Pittsburgh (72-70)000100000171
Cincinnati (87-57) «00100100x260

Bailey helps Reds sweep sagging Pirates

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati played small ball better than Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, allowing the Reds to take another big step toward a division championship.

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.

Sam LeCure pitched a perfect eighth and rookie J.J. Hoover allowed a two-out hit before striking out pinch-hitter Jose Tabata to complete his first career save.

"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."

The Pirates tied it in the fourth on singles by Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez to lead off the inning before leaving the bases loaded when Bailey struck out Burnett.

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."

Notes

  • 3B Pedro Alvarez was scratched from Pittsburgh's original starting lineup less than an hour before the first pitch with what a spokesman called "right wrist discomfort." There was no definitive word before the game on when Alvarez suffered the injury or how long he might be out.
  • 2B Neil Walker took batting practice Tuesday, but he still missed his 15th consecutive game with lower back tightness on Wednesday. He had no baseball-related activities planned for Wednesday or Thursday, manager Clint Hurdle said. "We'll see how he is on Friday," Hurdle said.
  • Thursday's day off is the last on Pittsburgh's schedule. The Pirates are scheduled to finish with 20 games in 20 days.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Homer Bailey quiets the Pirates through seven innings and the Reds extend their already formidable NL Central lead.  (Getty Images)
Homer Bailey quiets the Pirates through seven innings and the Reds extend their already formidable NL Central lead. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
Cincinnati

H. Bailey
IP 7.0
H 6
ER 1
BB 2
K 4
Pittsburgh

A. Burnett
IP 6.0
H 5
ER 2
BB 2
K 8
 
Pittsburgh Pirates
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Brock Holt, 2B4010000 .364
Josh Harrison, 3B3000001 .232
   a- Travis Snider, PH1000000 .259
    Tony Watson, P0000000 .000
    Jason Grilli, P0000000 .000
Andrew McCutchen, CF4120000 .340
Garrett Jones, RF4010001 .283
Gaby Sanchez, 1B4011000 .222
Alex Presley, LF3010112 .238
Clint Barmes, SS3000011 .221
   b- Jeff Clement, PH1010000 .154
    Chase d'Arnaud, PR0000000 .000
Rod Barajas, C1000100 .196
   c- Starling Marte, PH1000010 .231
    Jared Hughes, P0000000 .000
    Jordy Mercer, 3B0000000 .196
   d- Jose Tabata, PH1000011 .239
A.J. Burnett, P2000013 .056
   e- Michael McKenry, PH-C1000000 .252
Totals3317125  
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
Batting
3B - Alex Presley (6, Bailey)
RBI - Gaby Sanchez (26)
CS - Alex Presley (6, Home by Bailey/Hanigan)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
E - Garrett Jones (8, Misplayed grounder)
Pittsburgh Pirates
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
A.J. Burnett (L,15-7) 6522280 3.66
Jared Hughes 1100010 2.54
Tony Watson 0.2000110 3.52
Jason Grilli 0.1000010 2.91
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
Cincinnati Reds
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Brandon Phillips, 2B4020011 .295
Wilson Valdez, SS4011011 .201
Joey Votto, 1B3010113 .339
Ryan Ludwick, LF3110122 .275
    J.J. Hoover, P0000000 .000
Jay Bruce, RF4000012 .261
Scott Rolen, 3B3001021 .240
Chris Heisey, CF-LF3000021 .284
Ryan Hanigan, C3110000 .290
Homer Bailey, P1000111 .115
   a- Henry Rodriguez, PH1000000 .200
    Sam LeCure, P0000000 .000
    Drew Stubbs, CF0000000 .217
Totals29262311  
a-grounded out for Bailey in the 7th
Batting
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
Cincinnati Reds
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Homer Bailey (W,11-9) 7611240 3.93
Sam LeCure (H,6) 1000000 2.96
J.J. Hoover (S,1) 1100010 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
Game Information
Attendance - 21203
Game Time - 3:18
Temperature - 83
Umpires - Home - Manny Gonzalez, First Base - Greg Gibson, Second Base - Phil Cuzzi, Third Base - Gerry Davis