PITTSBURGH (AP) — Sean Rodriguez stepped to the plate looking to be aggressive.
That approach paid off as he homered to open the bottom of the ninth inning, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates a 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.
“When I try to be too passive, that’s when I swing and miss a lot,” Rodriguez said. “When I take my swing, it’s because I’m getting in my ready position and able to get my swing off. I was able to get a pitch I was able to get my swing off and hit it as good as I needed to.”
Rodriguez connected off Ross Ohlendorf (5-7), a 413-foot drive to the left-field bleachers that gave the Pirates just their second win in seven games in the midst of 12 straight games against teams who are at least 10 games under .500.
It was Rodriguez’s second career game-ending homer and his 11th home run of the season.
“It’s another cool thing for him this year,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of the utility player. “He’s done a lot of good things for us. He’s tough on himself. He expects a lot of good things to happen.”
The Reds tied the score 2-2 in the top of the ninth on pinch-hitter Ramon Cabrera’s sacrifice fly off Tony Watson (2-3), who blew his first save in two opportunities since All-Star closer Mark Melancon was traded to Washington last Saturday.
Rodriguez’s home run was the 23rd given up this season to the first batter a Reds reliever has faced.
“You can imagine how I feel about that at this point and I’m going to walk away from it,” Cincinnati manager Bryan Price. “I’m obviously very frustrated by it.”
Pirates rookie Jameson Taillon gave up only one run in six innings with six strikeouts and one walk in his fifth consecutive quality start. He has not factored in the decision in any of his five career home starts.
Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani allowed two runs and two hits in six innings with six strikeouts and three walks, and has yet to lose in 11 starts this season. He began the season on the disabled list with a strained oblique before being activated June 10.
The Pirates scored twice in the fifth inning to take a 2-1 lead as David Freese walked and John Jaso doubled before Francisco Cervelli hit a tying sacrifice fly. Jordy Mercer followed with a squeeze bunt to bring in the go-ahead run.
DeSclafani allowed fewer than three runs for the eighth time in nine starts as the Reds, last in the NL Central, began a nine-game road trip.
The Reds took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Brandon Phillips’ RBI single. He had two of Cincinnati’s six hits and is 7 for 11 in his last three games.
Slumping Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen returned to the lineup after being given a three-day “mental break” and went 0 for 2 with two strikeouts. The 2013 NL MVP is 1 for 14 in his last four games, dropping his batting average to .240.
Reds: RHP Alfredo Simon (strained right trapezius) and RHP A.J. Morris (strained right shoulder) are scheduled to begin rehabilitation assignments Sunday with Triple-A Louisville. … SS Zack Cozart returned after missing the previous three games with a bruised right ring finger.
Pirates: RF Gregory Polanco (left shoulder discomfort) was not in the lineup for a second straight game. … C Cervelli returned after being hit the head Tuesday by a pitch and sitting out two games.
Reds: RHP Homer Bailey (1-0, 3.18 ERA), who underwent Tommy John elbow ligament reconstruction surgery last year, will make his second start of the season. He won at San Diego on Sunday, allowing two runs and 5 2/3 innings.
Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (7-6, 4.90) will debut for his new team after being acquired Monday from the New York Yankees in a trade. He had spent his entire seven-year career with the Yankees.