Barnhart blasts game-winning homer -- as a righty

Long ball is catcher's fifth career shot and first from right side

Barnhart blasts game-winning homer -- as a righty

CINCINNATI -- When the Reds need a late home run to win a game, Tucker Barnhart isn't usually the first name that comes to mind. Based on the switch-hitter's history, a right-handed Barnhart definitely isn't expected to go deep.

Yet during the Reds' 3-2 victory over the Pirates, Barnhart batted right-handed in the bottom of the seventh inning when he hit Jonathon Niese's first pitch for a two-out homer to left field for what proved to be the game-winner.

"That's not my game," Barnhart said. "I don't hit homers, but I was lucky enough to square up a ball, and it was big time for us. Thankfully, it held up."

The home run ball, which entered the first row of seats, had to be confirmed via crew chief review to make sure there wasn't fan interference.

For Barnhart, it was his first home run since May 27, 2015, against the Rockies' Kyle Kendrick. It ended a homerless drought of 270 at-bats, which was the seventh longest among active players.

That's not all. It was Barnhart's fifth homer of his big league career, but the first as a right-handed batter -- at any professional level. He hits better from the left side even though he is naturally right-handed.

"I hit one in Spring Training, and that was the first right-handed homer as a professional baseball player," said Barnhart, who has taken over regular catching duties for the injured Devin Mesoraco. "Obviously tonight was my first one in the big leagues, pretty special. I've been working really hard to be in a good position to hit, and it's working out so far."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. 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.