Pirates top Reds to end five-game slide

Pirates top Reds to end five-game slide

PITTSBURGH -- A.J. Burnett worked seven sharp innings Thursday night to pick up his first win to accompany a 1.66 ERA, as the Pirates' offense awakened to down the Reds, 7-2, and avoid a historic loss.

Starling Marte and Chris Stewart drove in two runs each, and Andrew McCutchen went 3-for-4 and scored twice for the Bucs, who'd totaled five runs in their previous five games in May. The Reds had won the season's first five meetings between the teams, and they were going for their first 6-0 start in a series that dates back to 1882.

Cutch's RBI single

Anthony DeSclafani lasted only five innings for a third straight start for the Reds, and allowed seven hits and three runs. Todd Frazier's fourth-inning solo homer -- his 11th against Pittsburgh since the start of last season -- wasn't enough to overcome that. The Bucs then added three in the seventh off Kevin Gregg, two of them on Stewart's two-out single.

DeSclafani strikes out Harrison

"I think the offense was the stopper tonight," Burnett said after halting the Pirates' five-game losing streak. "They came out swinging the bat, and showed the determination not to quit, not to give up. We got some pros going through some stuff, but they aren't phased by it, and that's more important than anything."

Stewart's two-run single

Burnett in the K-zone: Burnett's third-inning strikeout of DeSclafani (via a fouled-off two-strike attempt) was career No. 2,400. He became the 41st in history to reach that peak, but did not stop there -- he rang up pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker in the seventh to tie Dennis Eckersley (2,401) for No. 40 all-time. More >

Burnett's 2,400th strikeout

It's a 10: Frazier's two-out home run to left field on a first pitch from Burnett in the fourth inning was his 10th of the season, which gave him sole possession of the National League lead. It was also Frazier's fourth homer of the season vs. the Pirates. He has homered in five of his last eight games.

"It's great," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "The thing is, I don't think he goes up there trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark. I think he tries to get hard contact. He's been hitting the ball from right-center field to the left-field line with power."

More struggles for Gregg: When Gregg took over for the Reds in the seventh, his team trailed by one run. After seven batters and only two outs, Gregg left down by four runs after giving up three runs, three hits and two walks to raise his ERA to 10.13 in 11 appearances. Stewart's lined two-out, two-run single to center field blew the game open for Pittsburgh. More >

Marte's RBI single

"Quite often it starts with a leadoff walk, and that got things going," Price said. "Of course, the big blow was Stewart fighting off that fastball inside and hitting it out to left field for a two-run base hit."

"Twenty-five hundred would be a good milestone; 2,400 is just on the way there." -- Burnett, setting a strikeout target for his career finish line, which he will hit at the end of this season

"Once we start keying on the good things, we start rolling, get the ball rolling here, it will be good regardless of if it's in our division or if it's out of our division. As long as we get going, ain't going to be anyone really stopping us." -- McCutchen, on beating a National League Central opponent

The Reds had last won a season's first five meetings with the Pirates in 1985. The following year, the Bucs started off 1-10 against Cincinnati -- but the teams split the first two before the Reds reeled off nine in a row.

Reds: For the first time since 2001, the Reds will play a series at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field when they face the White Sox on Friday. The 8:10 p.m. ET opener will pit Jason Marquis against Hector Noesi. Marquis has won each of his last three starts for Cincinnati.

Pirates: Francisco Liriano will take the hill Friday night at 7:05 p.m. ET as the Bucs open a weekend series against St. Louis in PNC Park, where they have had considerably better success against the Cardinals. The Pirates in fact last dropped a home set to the Redbirds in early April 2012, winning 15 of 22 games since.

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Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.