PITTSBURGH -- Billy Hamilton ran wild on the bases and in the outfield, extending Gerrit Cole's career-long struggles against Cincinnati and leading the Reds to a 7-3 win over the Pirates on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park.
"It's a completely different dynamic," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He just has a special talent and it certainly shows itself when he's getting on base and not just stealing the base, but scoring the runs."
Hamilton went 3-for-4 with a walk, and he took advantage of his time on the bases. The speedy center fielder -- who showcased his athleticism with a running, twisting grab to rob Eric Fryer in the third inning -- twice swiped both second and third base, his fourth career four-steal game.
"You can't stop him. You can only hold him for a few pitches," Cole said. "We did neither today."
Hamilton came around to score three times, sparking the Reds' attack against Cole. Pittsburgh's ace remains winless against Cincinnati in eight career starts after allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings, carrying a 5.44 ERA against the Reds and a 2.85 mark against the rest of the league.
"I just feel like we come and treat Cole like we treat every other pitcher," Hamilton said. "We try to get on base and try to do our job, but we come here and we face him and we always do pretty well. There's nothing that we do different than other pitchers. We have the same approach and the same mentality."
Reds right-hander Dan Straily turned in a quality start, pitching four perfect innings to start the game and ultimately allowing two runs on three hits over six innings. The Reds added to their lead in the seventh, scoring three runs off Pirates relievers Jared Hughes and Curtis Partch, and avoided a sweep. The Pirates, meanwhile, went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, committed two errors and made several mental mistakes -- none more glaring than Jordy Mercer getting picked off first base with nobody out in the ninth inning -- as they fell back to one game above .500 and three games behind the Marlins in the National League Wild Card standings.
"From a managerial standpoint, when things don't go well, I'm taking all the things that didn't work and putting them on my desk," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "All that went wrong today comes to my table, and I've got to sort it out and get through it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Hamilton does it all: Hamilton helped beat the Pirates with his bat, his glove and his feet. A double, two singles, a walk, four steals, three runs scored and the outstanding catch in center field helped the speedy outfielder become a one-man wrecking crew. More >
Quick start: The Reds jumped on Cole in the first inning. Hamilton drew a walk and then stole second and third. After a one out walk to Joey Votto, Hamilton scored on an Adam Duvall groundout to third. Brandon Phillips then singled home Votto, giving the Reds a 2-0 lead.
Just missed: Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison, who homered in the sixth inning off Straily, nearly tied the game in the seventh. Batting with the bases loaded against Reds reliever Raisel Iglesias, Harrison pulled a line drive down the left-field line, and it bounced off the bleachers and over the fence about five feet to the left of the foul pole, mere feet away from resulting in a game-tying grand slam. But Iglesias recovered, striking out Harrison with his next pitch to strand the bases loaded.
"I knew [it was enough], distance-wise. I wasn't sure about fair or foul," Harrison said. "I thought it was going to be close, and sure enough, it was." More >
"Overall, he's capable of more. This team's been a problem for him and a little bit of a puzzle. He's going to keep working at it and bust through." -- Hurdle, on Cole
"You can definitely do everything right, the catcher can do everything right and he can still be safe. That's what makes him such a danger on the basepaths." -- Hughes, on Hamilton
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With his four steals, Hamilton surpassed Brewers shortstop Jonathan Villar for the Major League lead. He also became the first Reds player with at least 40 straight steals in three consecutive seasons (56, 57, now 43) since Joe Morgan did it six years in a row from 1972-77. Hamilton is also the third Reds player to produce at least 40 steals in any three seasons, joining Morgan and Bob Bescher.
After reaching on a leadoff single in the ninth inning, Mercer was picked off first base by reliever Tony Cingrani. First-base umpire Jim Reynolds initially ruled that Mercer made it back to the bag in time, but the Reds challenged the call and a review determined that Votto tagged Mercer before he touched first base. With the Pirates down four, Mercer was ruled out, the first of the inning.
"He's not trying to run. He doesn't want to get picked off," Hurdle said. "He got picked off. At the end of the day, that's not going to work."
WHAT'S NEXT Reds: The Reds open a three-game series in St. Louis on Monday night. Lefty Cody Reed (0-6, 7.30 ERA) will be on the hill for the 8:15 p.m. ET first pitch. Reed just faced the Cards on Wednesday in Cincinnati and was tagged for five runs in five innings.
Pirates: Right-hander Chad Kuhl will make his fifth big league start, getting the callup from Triple-A Indianapolis to rejoin the Pirates' rotation and start Tuesday night against the Padres at PNC Park at 7:05 ET. Kuhl's last Major League start was his best one, as he held the Nationals to one hit over six scoreless innings on July 17.