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Walk, error, slam doom Nova against Reds

2-run homers from Meadows, Freese not enough to climb back
MLB.com @adamdberry

CINCINNATI -- For the second time in three days, the Pirates were done in by a Reds grand slam. For the fourth time this month, they lost with Ivan Nova on the mound. Yet again, Nova was left searching for answers and analyzing moments that went wrong.

Nova fell victim to his own mistakes in the third inning before giving up a grand slam to Eugenio Suarez. The veteran right-hander served up another homer to Jesse Winker in the fifth, and the Pirates' late comeback efforts fell short as they lost to the Reds at Great American Ball Park, 5-4, their fifth defeat in the last six games.

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CINCINNATI -- For the second time in three days, the Pirates were done in by a Reds grand slam. For the fourth time this month, they lost with Ivan Nova on the mound. Yet again, Nova was left searching for answers and analyzing moments that went wrong.

Nova fell victim to his own mistakes in the third inning before giving up a grand slam to Eugenio Suarez. The veteran right-hander served up another homer to Jesse Winker in the fifth, and the Pirates' late comeback efforts fell short as they lost to the Reds at Great American Ball Park, 5-4, their fifth defeat in the last six games.

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Overall, Nova allowed five runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out four. After a solid April, Pittsburgh's Opening Day starter has posted a 7.61 ERA over five starts in May.

"You don't want to be the guy pitching bad every five days, no matter if you're the veteran or a younger guy," Nova said. "I'm not helping right now, but it doesn't mean I won't help next time out. I've got five days to get back on track, keep working, keep figuring things out, and hopefully next time is the one that gets me going."

It's been a rough month for Nova. Opponents have hit .355 against him over his last five starts, four of them losses. He's put nearly two runners on base every inning, posting a 1.86 WHIP. He's made mistakes in the field, recording an error in each of his last two outings and pointing to a missed comebacker as the turning point in the previous start.

Nova had only himself to blame in the third inning. It began with a five-pitch walk to Reds starter Luis Castillo, then Winker slapped a ground-ball single to right field. Jose Peraza popped out on a bunt back to Nova, but Nova made an off-line throw to first base -- his third error of the season -- on Scooter Gennett's one-out grounder to load the bases.

"That part of the game has hurt him, and it didn't hurt him before," manager Clint Hurdle said. "And he's in better athletic shape. You're just trying to keep working on things. He's aware of it, and he's working to get better."

Gennett's grand slam off Jameson Taillon cost the Bucs in their 7-2 loss on Tuesday night. This time Cincinnati's hero was Suarez, who swatted Nova's 2-2 curveball a projected 374 feet to left field. Nova struck out Suarez on a curveball in the first inning, but he left the pitch up enough for Suarez to hit it out.

"There's just inconsistencies in the command and some of the pitches and sequences," Hurdle said. "He's doing everything he can to get himself in a better place. When he joined us, it looked easy. That's the challenge up here. There's times when it becomes hard, and you've got to keep fighting and keep working.

"He's doing the work. He's aware of what he needs to improve on. Those are the situations where we've got to trust him and keep giving him the ball and see if he can work through it."

The Pirates could not muster much offense against Castillo, who allowed two runs over six innings -- both on David Freese's sixth-inning home run to left field. But Austin Meadows made it interesting in the ninth, clubbing a two-run homer off Amir Garrett. Two days after going deep on a slider from the lefty reliever, Meadows ripped a 2-1 fastball out to right field.

Video: PIT@CIN: Freese crushes a 2-run homer to left field

"I knew he was going to try to challenge me with a fastball," said Meadows, who is 11-for-25 with three home runs in six games. "I was waiting on that pitch to hit. He gave me a good one to hit."

SOUND SMART
Meadows is the third Pirates player to ever hit three home runs in his first six Major League games, joining Dick Stuart (1958) and Dino Restelli (1949). Stuart finished the '58 season with 16 homers in 67 games, while Restelli slugged 12 homers over 72 games in '49.

Video: PIT@CIN: Meadows rips a 2-run homer to right in 9th

Reliever Richard Rodriguez issued his first unintentional walk of the season in the sixth, when pinch-hitter Joey Votto took a borderline full-count pitch to load the bases. Rodriguez has a 1.47 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings. Rodriguez induced a pop-up from Winker to escape the jam.

Video: PIT@CIN: Rodriguez induces fly out, escapes trouble

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Pirates reliever Tyler Glasnow showed off his high-octane fastball over two scoreless innings. Twenty-five of the right-hander's 27 pitches were fastballs. The Reds took four for strikes, swung and missed at five of the righty's pitches, which averaged 98.3 mph. Glasnow hit a career-high 100.4 mph on the radar gun to strike out Adam Duvall in the eighth, becoming the fifth pitcher this season to record a strikeout on a pitch of at least 100 mph.

Video: PIT@CIN: Glasnow gets Duvall looking, hits 100.4 mph

"We've seen Tyler continue to improve," Hurdle said. "I like the spin in the first inning he went out there, threw a couple curveballs in a slider, then just the raw velocity with command the next inning. Very sharp outing for him."

HE SAID IT
"I can tell you it's not fun when you are losing games. Just trying to find a way to get better. I've been in that position before that I've been able to get back on track. … I'm a hard worker. I'm going to keep working hard and get out of this." -- Nova, on what he can do to improve

UP NEXT
After nearly two months on the disabled list with a strained shoulder, Joe Musgrove will make his Pirates debut as the Bucs begin a three-game series against the Cardinals on Friday at PNC Park. Musgrove is set to start against Cards right-hander John Gant at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Ivan Nova