PITTSBURGH (AP) Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a key triple and Rich Hill got through five innings for the win as the streaking Pittsburgh Pirates extended their winning streak to six games Saturday night with a 2-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
The Pirates raised their record to 15-7 for their best start since 1992, the last time they won a division title. It is also Pittsburgh’s longest winning streak since an 11-game run in 2018.
The Pirates are coming off consecutive seasons of at least 100 losses and have finished last in the NL Central four years in a row.
“I think it’s a considerable difference (from last year), the fact that we’re finding ways to win games,” manager Derek Shelton said. “We had talked about it over the last couple years: With young teams, they have to find ways to win like that.”
Bryan Reynolds had two doubles and a sacrifice fly, while Hayes and Tucupita Marcano added two hits each for the Pirates.
The Reds got two hits apiece from Stuart Fairchild and Jose Barrero but have managed just six runs during their five-game losing streak.
Hill (2-2) won his second consecutive start. The 43-year-old lefty pitched one-run ball and struck out seven, though he gave up six hits and three walks.
“The ball didn’t come out of my hand the way I wanted to all night,” Hill said. “It’s one of those games that you put in the bucket of, you know, find a way to get the team through five and keep the team in the game. That’s really what that outing entailed.”
Yohan Ramirez and Duane Underwood Jr. followed Hill with two scoreless innings each to finish the game. Underwood earned his second save while subbing for closer David Bednar, who was rested after pitching on back-to-back nights.
“Our motto in our bullpen is next man up,” Underwood said. “You always need to be ready to pitch in any situation, in any role whenever (Shelton) calls your name.”
Luis Cessa (0-3) allowed two runs and six hits over 4 2/3 innings while striking out four and walking none. It was a major improvement over his previous start last Sunday when he was rocked for nine runs in the first inning of a loss to Philadelphia and 11 runs and 14 hits overall in three innings.
“I was being aggressive in the zone,” Cessa said. “That’s a key for me, to stay aggressive in the zone with all my pitches - fastball, slider, changeup. Really good things happened today. It was better for sure than my last outing.”
The Pirates took a 2-0 lead against Cessa.
Hayes tripled past a diving Barrero, the center fielder, to lead off the first inning and scored on Reynolds’ sacrifice fly. Carlos Santana and Jack Suwinski hit back-to-back doubles in the fourth to produce a run.
The Reds got their run in the fifth. It was unearned as Jonathan India scored when center fielder Ji Hwan Bae mishandled Fairchild’s single and was charged with an error.
Shelton’s contract was extended by the Pirates prior to the game after it had been set to expire at the end of the season. The team did not specify the length of the extension.
Shelton entered the season with a 142-242 record over three years, including seasons of 101 and 100 losses the past two years.
The start was delayed 25 minutes because of the threat of inclement weather. However, it never actually rained during the delay.
Reds: RHP Tony Santillan (arm fatigue) is working out with Triple-A Louisville but is not ready to begin a rehab assignment.
Pirates: RHP Chase De Jong (lumbar spine muscle strain) threw live batting practice but there is no timetable for his return.
Reds RHP Hunter Greene (0-0, 4.24 ERA) makes his first start Sunday since signing a $53 million, six-year contract. Greene left his previous start Monday against Tampa Bay after three innings when he sustained a bruised left tibia on a comebacker. RHP Vince Velasquez (2-2, 5.12) will pitch for the Pirates in the finale of the four-game series.
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