CINCINNATI -- Matt Harvey admitted there have been times when he's wondered if he'd ever record another big league win. He can rest easy now. The right-hander dealt six innings of one-run baseball, scattering three hits with two walks and five strikeouts on Tuesday night to earn his first win
CINCINNATI -- Matt Harvey admitted there have been times when he's wondered if he'd ever record another big league win. He can rest easy now. The right-hander dealt six innings of one-run baseball, scattering three hits with two walks and five strikeouts on Tuesday night to earn his first win with Cincinnati in a 7-2 victory over the Pirates.
"There have been some tough times in the last couple of years for me," Harvey said. "It was good to get the first one out of the way."
Harvey overcame a 30-pitch first inning by slipping out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam. After a groundout to open the game, Harvey issued back-to-back walks and a base hit. But he got Corey Dickerson to pop out weakly to shallow center before striking out Colin Moran to get out of the inning cleanly.
Harvey admitted that he was battling some adrenaline, but he was able to locate his pitches once he took a deep breath and dialed it back.
"Just calming everything down and trusting the work that's been going on and really staying back and letting the arm catch up and work properly," Harvey said.
The game began with a 65-minute rain delay. After escaping the first-inning jam, Harvey was given an early 2-0 cushion thanks to a pair of two-out RBI doubles from Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez.
Gennett was just getting started: In the bottom of the fifth inning, he hit a grand slam off of Pirates starter Jameson Taillon to stretch Harvey's cushion to 6-1. Gennett later added a sac fly in the seventh.
Harvey retired 17 of the last 19 batters he faced -- including eight in a row to end his night. His lone blemish came on an 0-2 eye-level fastball that Moran hit into the right-field seats. Harvey promptly recorded a strikeout and a fly ball to end the fourth and cruised through the sixth before finishing with 93 pitches.
"He's done that a couple of times," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "He's gotten better as he went along. Tonight was his third outing; it was the best of the three. The others were good, but to get him deeper in the game tonight and pitch out of trouble and get better as he went along was very encouraging."
Harvey's velocity was certainly there. According to Statcast™, he hit 96 mph a couple of times in the first inning and remained in the 93-95 mph range throughout. Harvey noted his budding trust in catcher Tucker Barnhart made things easier.
"I told him the first two [starts] that I was just going to jump on his back," Harvey said. "Today, obviously knowing my pitch count was going to get up a little bit and be able to throw later in the game, we went over the guys quite a bit before the game and the same thing -- I just told him, 'Hey, he does his homework.' He's awesome to throw to."
Harvey was at a career crossroads when he was acquired from the Mets for catcher Devin Mesoraco on May 8, after being designated for assignment. He had a 7.00 ERA in New York after multiple down years and injuries, and had been demoted to the bullpen before being jettisoned.
With the Reds, Harvey provided three consecutive solid outings. Finally, he can feel himself coming back into form.
"There's still work to be done, it's a long season. There's a lot left and to do and I think these last three have been really good steps for me, and I'm just excited to keep it going," Harvey said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Grand slam for Gennett: After a one-out single from Jose Peraza and a double from Barnhart with one out in the fifth, the Pirates elected to intentionally walk Joey Votto to load the bases. It proved to be a costly decision, as Gennett demolished a first-pitch changeup into the right-field seats. It was the sixth grand slam of Gennett's career and fifth in a little more than a season with the Reds. Gennett was 2-for-3 with six RBIs, the most by any Reds player this season and the fourth time in his career that he has recorded at least five RBIs in a game.
Gennett wasn't surprised when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the fifth and was eager for the opportunity.
"It definitely makes sense for why they did [walk Votto]. Joey is, in my opinion, the best hitter in the game so I definitely didn't take it personally or anything like that," Gennett said. " I like getting up there with the bases loaded."
Hernandez posts a zero: When Amir Garrett relieved Harvey to begin the seventh inning, the normally reliable reliever labored. He surrendered a solo homer to Austin Meadows and back-to-back walks to Jordy Mercer and pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez.
David Hernandez replaced Garrett and after a single to leadoff batter Josh Harrison loaded the bases with one out, the right-hander escaped unscathed. Gregory Polanco popped out to second base and Francisco Cervelli grounded out to shortstop. Hernandez has stranded all seven baserunners he's inherited this season.
When Pittsburgh elected to walk Votto in the fifth inning, it was the 135th time he's been intentionally walked in his career, tying Johnny Bench for the franchise record.
HE SAID IT
"I thought it was his normal self. He was commanding the ball well and throwing quality pitches in times where he needs to. His velo was there. It's not like he's 88-90. He's sitting 94 and he looks great." -- Gennett, on Harvey
Homer Bailey gets the start in Game 2 of this series at 7:10 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Great American Ball Park. He will try to bounce back from a loss his last time out against the Cubs, in which he gave up six earned runs on 10 hits with five walks in 4 2/3 innings. Bailey is 1-6 on the season with a 6.11 ERA. He boasted a 3.68 ERA in his first five starts of the season, but has since posted a 9.13 ERA in his last five outings. Chad Kuhl will get the ball for Pittsburgh.
Brian Rippee is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati.