PITTSBURGH -- The Reds entered Tuesday night having won only three of their past 17 games, but momentum doesn't seem to matter when they face the Pirates. Cincinnati continued its season-long mastery of Pittsburgh and cruised to a 9-1 win at PNC Park.
The Reds have won back-to-back games for the first time since July 8-9. They've taken seven of eight games against the Pirates this season, and this one was over in a hurry.
"He kind of got into the flow of the game and gave us six really valuable innings," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
The Pirates lost for the seventh time in their last nine games and fell farther out of the National League Central race, now sitting 6 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cubs. Right-hander Jameson Taillon couldn't get out of the fourth inning for the second straight start, serving up eight runs on 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings. In four starts since the All-Star break, Taillon's ERA has climbed from 2.73 to 4.74.
"It's the toughest thing I've experienced in my career," Taillon said. "Baseball's just a game, but this is our livelihood. Struggling like that at this level is pretty miserable."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Pirate killer: Hamilton has a history of torturing the Pirates, and Tuesday's game was no different. The speedy center fielder led off the game with a triple and scored, and he broke the game open in the second inning. With two on and one out, Hamilton knocked a 2-0 fastball from Taillon into the right-field seats. It was Hamilton's third homer of the season and his second three-run shot off Taillon. But Hamilton injured his left ankle in the field and was pinch-hit for in the eighth.
"We have the same information that every other team does, and he seems to hit us well," Taillon said. "Home runs are thrown, not hit. If you look at where those pitches are that he's hitting, I'm guessing the pitchers aren't going to be too happy."
Wink and you miss it: Called up for the fourth time this season, but granted his first real opportunity for extended playing time, Winker delivered immediately by robbing John Jaso of extra bases with a catch in front of the right-field wall in the first inning. In his third plate appearance, Winker took a curveball from Taillon deep to center for his first big league home run. Winker's homer traveled a projected 421 feet, according to Statcast™.
Because of plane trouble connecting in Detroit, Winker arrived less than an hour before first pitch.
"I had some chicken, hopped in the shower, stretched real quick, took about 5-6 swings in the cage, threw with Scooter before the game and went out to play. I kept it simple," Winker said. "I didn't really have time to think about anything. I knew Taillon was pitching. I had some AB's against him in Triple-A, so I kind of remembered on the way over here what he threw against me. I knew he had a big curveball. I kind of just went from there." More >
"Honestly, I feel like you have no reason to talk to me. Jesse hits his first home run. Tucker Barnhart really pulled me through that one today. He led me through that all day today. The defense was great. We put up nine runs." -- Bailey, on the win after not being pleased with his own performance
"We've seen in the past, the more tired he gets, the better he gets. That's kind of the old Homer we used to see. He can still run it up there. He's just getting better, more innings under his belt, all that stuff. He settled down. Once he got the lead, he was able to be aggressive and continued to pound the zone."-- Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer, on Bailey
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Hamilton has hit 16 home runs in his five-year career. Only four of them have come with runners on base, and only two of them have been three-run shots. Both of his two-run homers came in 2014, and both three-run blasts came this season against Taillon.
WHAT A PLAY, MARTE
Winker nearly hit his second homer in the fifth inning, launching a fly ball to left field. But Starling Marte crept back toward the wall and flung his upper half over the fence, reeling in WInker's would-be homer and receiving a round of applause from the home crowd.
"Crazy good play. Crazy good," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's trying to do everything he can to help us win. It just goes to show that their effort is there. We didn't have a lot to cheer up tonight, but that was obviously a really good defensive play."
Winker was very impressed, as well.
"That play was incredible. I was kind of shocked he brought that back," Winker said. "I was hoping maybe there would be a Reds fan in there to snatch it or something."
WHAT'S NEXT Reds:Robert Stephenson will be making his third big league start of the season and trying for his first win of 2017 when the series continues at PNC Park at 7:05 p.m. ET Wednesday. Stephenson has an 8.83 ERA in four games vs. Pittsburgh, including two starts last season.
Pirates:Trevor Williams will start for the Pirates on Wednesday. The right-hander held the Giants to one run on five hits over six innings in his last start but received no decision as Pittsburgh lost, 2-1. He posted a 3.86 ERA in five starts last month.