Hamilton, Mesoraco end homer droughts

Hamilton, Mesoraco end homer droughts

CINCINNATI -- The Reds lineup has spread the wealth with its distribution of home runs this season, but the calendar has turned several pages since Billy Hamilton or Devin Mesoraco cleared the fences. Both were for different reasons. Hamilton simply isn't a power hitter, while Mesoraco has spent most of the last two seasons on the disabled list.

During a 7-2 Reds win over the Pirates on Wednesday, Hamilton and Mesoraco each notched satisfying home runs. Hamilton's three-run shot in the fourth inning was his first in 319 at-bats since June 28, 2016, vs. the Cubs. Mesoraco's solo shot in the sixth was his first since Sept. 23, 2014, but a span of just 117 at-bats.

"You know, there hadn't been too many good days for me here in the last couple of years," said Mesoraco, who had been saddled with surgeries to both hips and his left shoulder the past two seasons, limiting him to 39 games. "I understand I'm still under contract, I'm still making the same thing, but I want to go out there and earn it and be somebody the organization can count on and somebody the organization expects to produce what they're paying them. I've been anything but up until this point."

Mesoraco's solo homer

It was already a 3-0 Reds lead in the fourth inning when pitcher Rookie Davis sacrifice bunted runners to second and third base ahead of Hamilton. Knowing he has Hamilton's speed as a weapon, the options danced in manager Bryan Price's head.

"A squeeze, safety squeeze, hit-and-run -- anything to kind of get the game in motion, to try to get that guy in from third base," Price said. "That to me was the real focus. With Billy, you're not really thinking three-run homer, although he has the ability to do it. It's not a big part of his game."

The first pitch to Hamilton from Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon was a 95-mph fastball. Hamilton turned on it quickly and launched it into the visitors' bullpen in right field. It left the bat at 100.1 mph, his hardest-hit ball of the season.

"That was awesome. It looked like he'd done it before," Mesoraco noted.

Thus ended the third-longest active homerless streak in the Major Leagues. Hamilton was well behind Pete Kozma of the Rangers (536 at-bats) and Miami's Adeiny Hechavarria (407 at-bats).

"I was just looking for a base hit. I don't do home runs, that's not what I'm here for," said Hamilton, who has 14 career homers since 2013. "I was just happy that it was out over the plate and I was ready from pitch one, which is something I've been trying to be better at."

Hamilton is a career .313 hitter vs. Pittsburgh with 45 steals.

"We tried to get in tight. It wasn't in tight," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He got the barrel to it. He continues to be more than a rock in our shoe."

In the sixth inning against reliever Trevor Williams, Mesoraco hit an 0-1 slider into the left-field seats. In his 2014 All-Star season, he hit a career-high 25 homers.

"I had a bad swing at a slider, so chances are I was going to get another slider," Mesoraco said. "Turns out I was right. Most of the time when you hit a homer, you pretty much have a good idea. Some guys do other things. I just get around the bases. That was a good feeling."

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