Cincinnati again leaves Cole Red-faced

Despite struggles against rival NL Central club, righty manages to keep Votto off bases

Cincinnati again leaves Cole Red-faced

CINCINNATI -- It isn't like the Reds don't put the hurt on other Pirates. Cincinnati has taken nine of 12 games against the Bucs this season, including Saturday's 4-3 Pirates loss, and 21 of 31 since the 2013 Wild Card celebration in PNC Park.

It is a lineup of Pirates predators. For instance, total the productions of Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Todd Frazier this season, and you will find that 25 percent of their home runs and 23 percent of their RBIs have come against the Pirates. So a lot of them have taken hits.

But Gerrit Cole is the only one who never gets to hit back.

Cole made his sixth career start against the Reds, the fourth this season, on Saturday night. The Bucs have lost all six. Cole -- mind you, MLB's biggest winner -- is 0-3 against the Reds this season, 14-2 against all the other guys. Seventeen of his 21 starts have been quality grade; the other four have come against Cincinnati.

And on, and on.

"I'm very frustrated," Cole corrected, when it was suggested to him that he had sufficient respect for the dogged Reds to merely look forward to one day getting the best of them. "They got me every time. When you have a team that grinds out every single at-bat, capitalizes on the few mistakes, then grinds out a few more at-bats to drive the pitch count up … they're tough to handle.

"I mean, one through five … Phillips, Votto, Frazier, [Jay] Bruce, [Marlon] Byrd … that's five serious bats coming at you right from the beginning."

By his own account, Cole executed the vast majority of his 98 pitches. He erred on only two to Eugenio Suarez and one to Bruce -- and the Reds "picked good times to capitalize on mistakes."

Suarez's RBI double

"This is a team that has confidence against a couple of our starters," manager Clint Hurdle said of the Reds. "They have confidence when they go up against Gerrit now, but Gerrit will have every opportunity to turn that around with his time in the league. He'll change that dynamic."

Cole had a minor, if significant, victory. Votto, who seemed to spend all of July on the bases, could not reach on the first day of August, going 0-for-4. Cole struck him out twice, including at the end of a gripping nine-pitch battle in the fifth that "absolutely was fun," the pitcher said.

Touching all the bases

First: It was quite an evening in Indianapolis, where two of the Pirates' top three prospects made their Triple-A debuts in the Indians' 6-5 victory in 13 innings over Charlotte. No. 1 prospect Tyler Glasnow struck out seven and gave up one earned run in 5 1/3 innings and, playing at first base behind him, No. 3 prospect Josh Bell went 1-for-6 and drove in a run.

Second: A day after being recalled from the Triple-A club, left-hander Bobby LaFromboise was optioned back to the Indians on Saturday by the Bucs, who needed his roster spot for newcomer J.A. Happ.

Third: Joe Blanton made his Pirates debut, pitching a perfect seventh before allowing a run in the eighth.

Blanton fans Votto

Home: Gregory Polanco (2-for-4) has reached base in 21 of his last 22 games … just like Votto now.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.