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Bucs shut out Reds for series split

CINCINNATI -- Joey Votto and Billy Hamilton were missing from the Reds' lineup. Pirates starter Charlie Morton certainly didn't miss the rested Cincinnati stars, hurling five-hit shutout ball for seven innings Sunday in a 3-0 win at Great American Ball Park that salvaged a split of the four-game series.

The game was interrupted by a benches-clearing incident in the eighth inning after the teams traded hit batters, the Bucs' Andrew McCutchen for the Reds' Brandon Phillips.

Joakim Soria had to come on to pick up his first save for the Pirates after their regular closer, Mark Melancon, drew an automatic ejection from plate umpire D.J. Reyburn after hitting Tucker Barnhart with a pitch with one out in the ninth. Melancon had a streak of 31 save conversions.

Video: PIT@CIN: Soria earns his first save with the Pirates

"That's a good option to have. We didn't have it three days ago," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Soria, who earned his 202nd career save.

Right-hander Keyvius Sampson, the fifth straight rookie starter employed by the Reds, allowed three hits while striking out six in five innings. But two of the hits were Starling Marte's two-run double in the third and Neil Walker's replay review-confirmed solo home run in the fourth.

"He did good, he showed good stuff and he was around the plate," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He showed a four-pitch mix around the plate. I thought he had great composure for a guy making his [starting] debut. I was very impressed with the way he threw the baseball, and we look forward to seeing a lot more of Keyvius."

Morton has a clean first: Morton had a simple 1-2-3 first inning -- two groundouts and a fly to medium-deep left -- and was on his way. It was only the second perfect first inning in 13 starts for Morton, who has allowed 16 of the 38 total runs against him in the opening inning.

Video: PIT@CIN: Morton throws seven spotless frames

"I think a lot of my starts have been ruined by the first and last innings," said Morton, who has also been hit hard at the end of his outings but finished on a high note Sunday by fanning Ivan De Jesus Jr. with a man on second to end the seventh. "The body of my work has been good. But this was one of the few times I wasn't knocked out by the last pitch I threw."

Sampson starts off hot: Sampson was able to get it going early to retire the first seven batters he faced on Sunday. The streak was eventually snapped in the top of the third inning on a double down the left-field line by Sean Rodriguez, which started a two-run inning for the Pirates.

Video: PIT@CINL Sampson fans six in first career start

"I felt good just trying not to overdo it," Sampson said. "They just told me to go out there and get ahead. Too bad we got the loss, but [I] tried to keep the team in the game." More >

Reds squander chance: De Jesus Jr. had been 2-for-2 on the day but came up empty when the Reds needed it in the seventh inning. With Eugenio Suarez standing on second base, De Jesus Jr. struck out to end the threat and strand the runner. De Jesus Jr. also ended the game with a groundout with runners on first and third base in the bottom of the ninth. The Reds finished the day 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

"The good thing is, they're in our division, and I get to face that guy again. I'm looking forward to it." -- McCutchen, on Reds reliever Pedro Villarreal, who hit him in the back in the eighth inning, triggering the rest of the game's extracurriculars

Video: PIT@CIN: Cutch takes Villarreal's pitch to the back

Jung Ho Kang batted fourth for the Pirates, who rested Aramis Ramirez, who had gone 4-for-30 as the regular cleanup hitter since his July 23 trade from Milwaukee; the Bucs haven't had a home run from the cleanup spot since July 1, when Marte went deep against Detroit.

A crew chief review quickly turned Walker's fourth-inning triple into a home run. Walker's drive off the right-center wall was originally deemed in play, and he legged out the stand-up three-bagger. But a review clearly showed the ball clanging off the glove of a fan attempting a catch, well above the yellow line running along the wall. More >

Video: PIT@CIN: Walker awarded homer after review in 4th

Pirates: The Bucs retreat to PNC Park -- where they have won 11 of their last 13 games -- to open a six-game homestand, kicking off Monday at 7:05 p.m. ET with the first of three against the Cubs. Francisco Liriano (7-6, 2.92 ERA), whose last six starts have turned into wins, is scheduled to lead it off.

Reds: After an off-day on Monday, the Reds will kick off a three-game series against the Cardinals from Great American Ball Park on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Right-handed rookie pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (6-7, 3.75 ERA) will get the start as the new face of a rookie-filled Reds rotation.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. Robert Bondy is an associate reporter for