Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez drilled three-run homers in a six-run second inning to power the Cincinnati Reds past the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates 7-4 on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series.
Jonathan India continued his torrid streak at the top of the order with a 410-foot leadoff homer to the upper deck in left as the Reds (58-51) moved seven games over .500 for the first time since 2014.
Reds starter Sonny Gray (4-6) was the beneficiary of an early offensive surge as he pitched five innings to earn the win. He gave up four runs on six hits and two walks, striking out seven.
Mychal Givens pitched a scoreless ninth to become the 10th Cincinnati pitcher to record a save this season, establishing a franchise record. It was his 22nd career save and first with Cincinnati.
Early on, the Reds looked re-energized with the return of Nick Castellanos (right wrist microfracture) to their starting lineup. Castellanos went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts and batted in his customary No. 3 spot in the order.
After India’s homer in the first put the Reds up 1-0, the Reds sent 11 batters to the plate in a six-run second against Pirates starter Wil Crowe (3-6), including the homers by Suarez and Votto. Crowe was done in by his own throwing error in the second. He allowed seven runs — three earned — and eight hits over four innings.
Gray was the victim of some well-placed ground balls and bad luck in the fifth after four scoreless innings to start the game. One of the key moments came as Hoy Park grounded to Votto at first with runners on first and third. Votto, playing in, chose not to take the out at first but rather looked to Wilmer Difo at third.
With no one covering third, the play loaded the bases. The Pirates scored three more times to cut Cincinnati’s lead to 7-4.
Pirates center fielder Bryan Reynolds robbed Naquin of a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth.
Converted reliever Jared Hoffman helped settled the game down for the Reds with two scoreless innings in relief of Gray.
–Field Level Media