CINCINNATI — Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole was on his way to a second straight impressive start on Sunday in Cincinnati.
A Reds offensive burst derailed him.
Cole allowed one hit through five innings before Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett hit two-run home runs in the sixth to back Robert Stephenson’s impressive pitching and the Reds completed their second three-game sweep of the slumping Pirates this season with a 5-2 win.
"Obviously, we can hit," Bennett said. "It’s nice to see the other pieces are falling in. I finally feel if they give up four or less we have a pretty good chance to win."
Cole (11-11) had allowed just five hits in seven shutout innings and homered in a 1-0 Pittsburgh win in Cincinnati on August 26 — his first career win against the Reds. He extended his string of shutout innings at smallish Great American Ball Park to 12 before the Reds pounced.
Jesse Winker’s two-out, third-inning single was the Reds only hit until Suarez followed a leadoff walk to Winker in the sixth with his 26th homer of the season. After Cole walked Joey Votto, Gennett lined his 25th homer of the season into the right field seats, knocking Cole out of the game without getting an out in the inning.
"I just didn’t make enough good pitches to Winker to start the inning," Cole said. "I didn’t put myself in a good position by walking the leadoff hitter. I made a mistake to Gennett. They’re looking to slug. They’re looking to do some damage. They put good swings on some balls."
Tucker Barnhart added a run-scoring triple in the sixth as the Reds sent the Pirates to their fifth straight loss and 10th in 11 games. The loss guarantees Pittsburgh’s second straight losing season after three consecutive years of at least 88 wins.
The win was Cincinnati’s 66th of the season, two short of matching last season’s total, and they pulled within two games of fourth-place Pittsburgh in the Central Division.
"We should strive for a lot more," manager Bryan Price said. "We should be talking about getting to the top of the division, but at this point in time unfortunately it’s fourth place. It is better than where we currently stand, and we should push hard."
The sweep was the Reds’ first of the Pirates in a Cincinnati three-game series since April 6-9, 2015. The Reds swept a three-game series in Pittsburgh on April 10-12 of this season.
The Pirates, who’ve scored a total of nine runs in their last five games, got just one hit against Stephenson (5-5) – Cole’s double in the third, which left runners on second and third with nobody out. Stephenson struck out John Jaso and got Jordan Luplow and Andrew McCutchen to pop up.
The rookie right-hander walked three and struck out eight.
"The pitching against us lately has been good," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "We haven’t pushed on anybody for a while."
After Deck McGuire pitched a one-hit seventh for Cincinnati, John Jaso hit a two-run homer off of Luke Farrell in the eighth to avoid a shutout.
Michael Lorenzen pitched a perfect ninth for his second save of the season.
Cole burned the Reds with a two-strike "butcher boy" double over drawn-in CF Scott Schebler after showing bunt to give Pittsburgh runners on second and third with nobody out in the third. Stephenson escaped with a strikeout and two popups.
The Reds announced during the game that they had claimed minor league 1B D.J. Peterson off waivers from the White Sox and transferred RHP Drew Storen to the 60-day disabled list. Peterson has hit .266 with 86 home runs and 343 RBIs in 522 games over five seasons. He will not report to the big league team.
SPREADING THE POP
Gennett’s home run was his 25th of the season, giving the Reds at least five players with at least that many for the second time in franchise history and first since the 1956 team also finished with five at 25 or more. They included Hall-of-Famer Frank Robinson, who hit a team-high 38 on his way to being named Rookie of the Year.
Reds: RHP Drew Storen will undergo Tommy John surgery to replace the damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, manager Bryan Price announced on Sunday.
Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (7-6), Monday’s scheduled starter against Milwaukee in Pittsburgh, is 2-4 with a 7.17 ERA in 11 starts since the All-Star break.
Reds: After Monday’s day off, rookie RHP Jackson Stephens (2-0) will make his second career start and first against the Cardinals on Tuesday. Stephens allowed two hits and had a strikeout in three innings of relief during Cincinnati’s 5-2 loss at St. Louis on Thursday.