Despite winning the first game of a doubleheader 4-2 on Thursday at Great American Ball Park, the Pittsburgh Pirates lost the nightcap 5-1 to the Cincinnati Reds, resulting in their second consecutive series split.
Diego Castillo hit a home run, Michael Chavis drove in a tiebreaking two-run double, and rookie Roansy Contreras gave up just one run in six innings.
A day after losing 16-0 to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night, the Pirates had a quick turnaround from that defeat. The team arrived in Cincinnati at around 3 a.m. and took on the Reds 10 hours later. Following losses by eight runs or more, they improved to 7-0.
Ben Gamel came home from first base on Jason Delay's first career hit—a double in the seventh inning. This was the Reds' third loss in four games and seventh in nine. The hit by Delay made it 4-1 in favor of Pittsburgh.
It was also a huge bounce-back game for Pirates right-handed rookie Contreras, whose last start was the least impressive of his major league career. In a 19-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on July 1, he gave up seven runs on five hits, three of which were home runs. He did this in 1 2/3 innings.
“He did a nice job. He gave up the homer and bounced right back,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “Overall, a solid outing. Nice to see him bounce back and give us a victory.”
Contreras got his splitting pitches—particularly his slider—work again. He earned the victory after finishing his first six-inning career start, in which he gave up one run on four hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts in 90 pitches.
To start the second game of the doubleheader, the Pirates added right-handed pitcher Bryse Wilson as their 27th player. Wilson was named the Triple-A Indianapolis player for June after going 3-0 with a 2.49 earned run average in four starts and making a good start in a 7-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on July 2.
In the third inning, Gamel doubled off Ross Detwiler and scored when Daniel Vogelbach hit a single to right. This gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Tyler Naquin hit Wilson's changeup 422 feet to right field in the sixth inning, making it 1-1.
Wilson gave up one earned run on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, but the Pirates did not score when they had runners on first and third with one out in the seventh. In the bottom of the seventh, with two outs, the Reds scored four runs because the Pirates made two mistakes on defense.
Chris Stratton took over for Wilson, but Brandon Drury hit a two-run triple that got past a diving Gamel to give the team a 4-1 lead. Drury then scored on a single by Tommy Pham, making it 5-1.
In the afternoon game, a first for one Pirates catcher led to a first for another. With a double in the seventh, Delay got his first hit in the major leagues and drove in his first run.
“Ultimately, we have to score,” Shelton said. “We missed a scoring opportunity in the first where we didn’t put the ball in play. We got nothing going offensively.”
“I was starting to feel the pressure,” said Delay, who hit 1 for 4 and struck out twice. “A couple of at-bats had gone by where I hadn’t gotten one. It’s always nice to get that out of the way but, more importantly, to get the win was huge.”
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