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Billy Hamilton is well aware of his struggles at the plate. The Cincinnati Reds centerfielder has tried to stay positive even as his average and his spot in the batting order dropped at an alarming rate Kevin Huber Jersey , trying to focus on being a more complete player until his swing returned.

For the first time in a while – far too long for Hamilton’s liking – everything that makes him so effective was on full display Sunday against Pittsburgh. Hamilton went 3 for 4, stole two bases, scored three times and made a pair of vital defensive plays as the Reds held on for an 8-6 victory on Sunday.

Hamilton started the day with a diving grab on the warning track in right-center to rob Pittsburgh’s Francisco Cervelli of extra bases in the first. He ended it by starting the sequence that cut down the potential game-tying run at the plate in the eighth then trotting home in the ninth after Scott Schebler’s two-run shot gave Cincinnati a little extra breathing room.

”Oh my goodness, that’s the best part (is the hitting),” Hamilton said after boosting his average .197. ”I ain’t worried about the catch. The catch is good, but I’m just worried about what I did at the plate. Especially for me, I’ve been struggling, man. Just to have one of these days, it gives you a bunch of confidence and clears your head a little bit.”

Eugenio Suarez homered in the second straight game and Joey Votto celebrated his 1,500th major league contest by going 2 for 4 with two RBIs for the Reds. Schebler added three RBIs for Cincinnati, which won for just the second time in seven tries at PNC Park this season.

Anthony DeSclafani (2-1) surrendered solo home runs to Colin Moran and Gregory Polanco but otherwise kept the Pirates in check to pick up his second victory since his return after missing the entire 2017 season with right elbow issues. DeSclafani struck out four against three hits and a strikeout in 5 2/3 innings and more than once caught himself marveling at Hamilton.

”It’s unbelievable what he can do out there Tyler Boyd Jersey , man,” DeSclafani said. ”He saves pitchers all the time and he’s just fun to watch out there. It’s like video game stuff. It’s unbelievable.”

Raisel Iglesias allowed an inherited runner to score in the eighth and an RBI-single to Austin Meadows in the ninth but managed to record the final four outs for his 10th save, receiving a bit of help in the process. Iglesias entered with two on and two outs in the eighth and immediately surrendered a double in the gap to Polanco.

Corey Dickerson scored to pull the Pirates within one but Josh Bell was out at home trying to score all the way from first after Hamilton raced to the ball and quickly got it to shortstop Jose Peraza, who fired a strike to home.

The call stood upon review after the Pirates challenged Cincinnati catcher Curt Casali may have illegally blocked the plate.

”I was just thinking head-first slide before he caught it so it was just too late for me to redirect or think anything else at that point,” Bell said, who added he thought Casali ”100 percent” gave him a lane to slide.

SLUMP BUSTED?

Like Hamilton, Polanco has been mired in an extended slump. The Pirates moved him to seventh in the lineup and there are signs he’s on the verge of snapping out of it after going 3 for 3, including his ninth home run of the season.

”Right now I am not thinking about anything, just seeing the ball and hit it,” Polanco said after boosting his average to .211. ”Because my swing the last couple days has been good. I’m not thinking now, I’m just swinging now. And when you’re not thinking your swing is good. So you just want to continue to keep seeing the pitches that you want to hit.”

MUSGROVE MUZZLED

Joe Musgrove (2-2) had been impressive in his first four starts for the Pirates after starting the year on the disabled list with right-shoulder problems but the Reds jumped on him the second time through the lineup. Cincinnati scored two runs in the fourth Andrew Billings Jersey , fifth and sixth and finished 4 for 9 with runners in scoring position after going 0 for 19 in the same situation over the first two games of the series, both losses.

Musgrove was charged with six runs in 4 1/3 innings with a walk and six strikeouts as his ERA jumped from 2.16 to 3.68.

”That’s my first day game in a while,” Musgrove said after temperatures soared into the upper 80s. ”Just trying to get my body alert. It was hot out there. I felt drained.”

UP NEXT

Reds: off Monday then host Detroit in a brief two-game interleague series starting Tuesday when Sal Romano (3-7, 5.67 ERA) faces Matthew Boyd (4-4, 3.23).

Pirates: Welcome Milwaukee to PNC Park for the first time this season when the Brewers come in for a three-game set starting Monday. Trevor Williams (5-4, 4.38 ERA) faces Jhoulys Chacin (6-1, 3.32) in the opener.




SAN DIEGO — Padres manager Andy Green says make nothing of the statistic. The only thing that’s important is that the Padres will be going for a series win Sunday in the rubber match of a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Petco Park.

But here’s the stat. The Padres lost Friday night’s series opener to the Pirates — marking the 18th time in the last 19 series that the Padres have lost the opening game in the series.

Saturday night they held onto a 4-3 win to improve to 14-5 in the second game of their last 19 series. Going into Sunday, they are 11-7 in the third game.

“I don’t put much into that first game of a series statistic,” Green said Saturday. “I think it’s just one of those things that you don’t make too big a deal out of. The goal is to win the series and we have Tyson (Ross) on the mound for the rubber game.”

The right-handed Ross (5-5, 3.32 earned run average) will be opposing Pittsburgh right-hander Jameson Taillon (5-6, 3.96 ERA) in Sunday afternoon’s rubber match.

The 32-year-old Ross has been the Padres most reliable pitcher this season. The Padres are 11-5 when he starts (including a 7-2 record over his last nine starts) Mason Crosby Jersey , although they have failed to score a run for him the last three times he has started.

Ross has not allowed more than three runs in his last nine starts and he has gone five or more innings in his last 11 starts. Over his last two outings, Ross has allowed three runs on nine hits and six walks in 13 innings. And his ERA over those past nine starts is 3.08.

Ross has already made one successful start against the Pirates this season. On May 18 in Pittsburgh, Ross held Pittsburgh to two runs on five hits and four walks with two strikeouts over six innings to get credit for the win in a 3-2 Padres victory.

Sunday will be Ross’ seventh career appearance against the Pirates. In six previous starts, Ross has a 2-2 record and a 3.24 ERA. Another thing Ross has going for him Sunday is Petco Park. He has a career 2.91 ERA in the Padres’ downtown home in 53 games (44 starts).

Taillon, 26, will be facing the Padres for the first time this season although he will be making his third career start against the Padres. He has a 1-0 record with a 1.26 ERA over 14 1/3 innings in his first two outings against the Padres. He shut out the Padres on three hits and two walks over eight innings in 2016.

Like Ross, Taillon will also be making his 17th start of the season. After starting the season 2-0 with a 0.89 ERA in his first three starts, Taillon has gone 3-6 with a 4.87 ERA in his last 13 starts. But he has won each of his past three road starts, giving up four runs in 21 innings.

The biggest plus for Taillon Sunday could be the sunlight. He is 9-2 with a 2.87 ERA in 17 career day games and 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA in five daylight starts on the road.
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