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Reds back Simon with big fifth to hold off Pirates

Jay Bruce had two steals to go with two hits, an RBI, and a run scored on Wednesday.
Jay Bruce had two steals to go with two hits, an RBI, and a run scored on Wednesday.
Photo by Justin K. Aller

The Cincinnati Reds continued their early season dominance against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on Wednesday when they knocked off the Buccos 5-2.

Alfredo Simon (3-1) shook off command issues in the first to give the Reds bullpen some more rest as he went 6.2 innings with four strikeouts and five walks. Simon did see his ERA rise from 0.86 to 1.30, but he's still creating an interesting decision for manager Bryan Price when Mat Latos returns from the disabled list. His counterpart, Charlie Morton (0-3), continued his early season troubles. Morton allowed four runs, three earned thanks to two errors, and allowed just four hits in six innings, but like Simon, he also walked five.

The Reds (10-11) and Pirates (9-13) ensured long first innings for each pitcher. Cincinnati sent five to the plate, but Joey Votto stood at third after a single and then another by Jay Bruce. Bruce ended up on second for the first of his two stolen bases and the first of four successful swipes in six attempts against Pirates catcher Chris Stewart. Todd Frazier was unable to capitalize as he grounded out to end the inning.

Simon was not as fortunate to leave unscathed in the first. After a leadoff single by Starling Marte, Simon walked the bases loaded with two outs and then walked Travis Snider to score Marte. Jordy Mercer was unable to give Pittsburgh the big inning it ultimately needed when Simon struck him out to end the threat.

The Reds played small ball in the second to tie the game. Roger Bernadina walked, stole second, then advanced to third on a throwing error by Stewart. Two batters later the Ramon Santiago took the RBI groundout to make it one all. That was short lived as Andrew McCutchen hit his third home run in as many games to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead.

That lead held until the fifth when the Pirates self destructed. It started with control problems from Morton as he hit Devin Mesoraco and then walked Santiago. Simon sacrificed the runners over then Mesoraco tied the game on an RBI single by Billy Hamilton. The speedy Hamilton set up another run as Stewart was once again errant on his throw trying to throw out a runner, to allow Santiago to score the go ahead run. Morton then walked the bases loaded to set-up another run on an RBI ground out by Bruce. The right fielder stole second once again for another grand opportunity for Frazier, but he once again bounced out to end the inning.

The Reds added another in the eighth against Bryan Morris, while Sean Marshall and Sam LeCure each worked scoreless outings to setup Jonathan Broxton for the save. It wasn't easy for Broxton as he allowed the tying run to come to the plate with one out, but he retired Neil Walker and McCutchen to secure his third save of the year.

The two teams finish off the four game set Thursday afternoon at 12:35 p.m. Making his first start for the injured Wandy Rodriguez will be Brandon Cumpton, who has three appearances against Reds in just six career games and is 1-0 with just one earned run allowed in 13 innings with nine strikeouts. Tony Cingrani (1-2, 3.22 ERA) looks to bounce back after getting knocked around by the Cubs in his last outing.

The two teams will not see each other again until they meet again at PNC Park on June 17. The Reds head to Atlanta for a three game-series before returning home for a seven-game homestand.