Reds come up clutch to aggravate Pirates

Seven of club's 12 hits come with two outs, including all four knocks in four-run first

Reds come up clutch to aggravate Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- The Reds came into Wednesday tied for 23rd in the Major Leagues in two-out hits this season, but they splurged on them against normally stingy Pirates ace Gerrit Cole.

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During a 5-2 victory, the Reds scored all of their runs -- and recorded seven of their 12 hits -- when there were two outs. None were more pivotal than the four straight two-out hits vs. Cole in the top of the first inning. It started when Todd Frazier reached out and lined an RBI double off the glove of sliding right fielder Gregory Polanco that scored Billy Hamilton.

Frazier's RBI double

"If he catches it, we don't score that inning. We go on to score four," Reds manager Bryan Price said.

Cole struggled to close the inning down as Jay Bruce followed with an RBI double and Marlon Byrd attacked a first pitch for a two-run homer to center field that made it 4-0. Cole threw 38 pitches in the inning.

Bruce's RBI double

"I was able to get a pitch early and put a good swing on it and have it carry," Byrd said. "Once he starts cruising, he just doesn't let up. We needed the runs early."

Cole entered the night 11-2 with a 1.78 ERA and hadn't allowed more than three earned runs in his previous 14 starts this season.

"There was a tipping point," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's one pitch away from getting out of the inning. There's such a fine line between giving up runs and not giving up runs."

A pair of two-out singles came in the third inning, including one by Byrd to right field that made it a 5-1 game. While the Pirates were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, the Reds were 4-for-11.

Byrd's RBI single

"Of course you always appreciate those, because the whole time you're sitting there with two outs -- and those add-on runs are so important," Price said. "Certainly all the runs in the first inning. But anytime you can add on and extend that lead, it's big. They're finding their way back into that ballgame. Getting that bonus run there was big, and the two-out hitting has improved, for sure."

Cole is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA vs. the Reds in three starts this season. Against the rest of the league, he is 11-1 with a 1.33 ERA.

"A lot of foul balls today. ... I think that was generated off of I just didn't have a good delivery," Cole said. "I was kind of throwing across my body tonight, didn't really have a good change of planes on the fastball or the breaking ball. I think that contributed a lot to the foul balls and not being able to put guys away, but yeah, they are tough.

"We know they're an offensive team. We know that they've got professional hitters -- Marlon Byrd, [Joey] Votto, Frazier, Billy Hamilton wreaks havoc at the top of their lineup. There's some weapons they have, but you have to deal with them."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.