The Reds rallied for four runs, all of them with two outs, against Cole in the first inning. Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce drove in one apiece with back-to-back doubles, and Marlon Byrd delivered the biggest blow with a two-run homer to center.
It was a rare off night for Cole, who lasted only 4 2/3 innings and surrendered five runs in the second-shortest start of his young career. It was the first time since Sept. 7 that Cole, the Major League leader with 11 wins, was charged with more than three runs in a start.
"I didn't bring out a good delivery. Stuff was a little flat. Didn't make pitches when I needed to make pitches in the first," Cole said. "Obviously it's frustrating that I couldn't go deeper into the game."
Leake, meanwhile, hasn't lost to the Pirates since May 5, 2012. The right-hander held the Bucs to two runs and struck out five over seven innings after being spotted a four-run lead, improving to 7-0 with a 3.17 ERA against Pittsburgh during that span.
"He did a super job," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He had a cushion early, and they keep pushing and they keep running the bases, they keep stealing, the hit-and-run -- they just find a way to scrape back. They never roll over. Mike's very familiar with their lineup. That being said, they're familiar with him, too. He just kept making pitches."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Two-out hitting splurge: The Reds entered the night tied for 23rd in the Majors in two-out hits, but they had plenty of them Wednesday. Seven of the team's 12 hits in the game -- and all four hits in the first inning -- came with two outs, including Byrd's two-run homer. Two more two-out hits came in the fifth, including an RBI single by Byrd.
"Of course you always appreciate those, because the whole time you're sitting there with two outs -- and those add-on runs are so important," Price said. "Certainly all the runs in the first inning. But, anytime you can add on and extend that lead, it's big. They're finding their way back into that ballgame. Getting that bonus run there was big, and the two-out hitting has improved, for sure." More >
Cole Train leaves early: Cole pitched at least five innings in each of his first 14 starts this season, and he lasted at least six innings in all but two of them. But the 38-pitch first inning quickly caught up with Cole, as the Reds chased him after 106 pitches. It was the first time since June 28, 2014, that Cole couldn't complete five innings. That four-inning outing against the Mets was the shortest of Cole's young career.
"I think 38 pitches the first inning probably took a little steam out of him," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He reset, did the best with what he had." More >
Billy Ball: Back in the leadoff spot with Brandon Phillips scratched because of a thumb injury, Billy Hamilton gave Cole and catcher Chris Stewart some distraction after he led off the game with a walk. Cole made five pickoff attempts to first base before Hamilton successfully stole second with Ivan DeJesus Jr. batting. Hamilton also swiped third base (his Major League leading 35th steal of the season) with Joey Votto batting to set up the game's first run on Frazier's RBI double.
"It's not my job to figure out if I can get into his head or not," Hamilton said. "I'm just looking to get myself in the best position to score. I felt like if we scored first, the damage is done. We can get everybody confident by scoring first, and that's what I wanted to do. I don't know what I did to him. My job was to get into scoring position to get runs. I did it tonight in the first inning and got everybody going."
Called up, called in: The Pirates added right-hander Chris Volstad to their roster before Wednesday's game, bolstering a relief corps that's had to work overtime recently. And the 28-year-old was immediately put to work himself, scattering two hits over two scoreless innings in his first big league action since June 15, 2013.
"It was a very efficient two-inning outing," Hurdle said. "He showed up well." More >
QUOTABLE "If you take a random survey of the big pitchers that have pitched well this year, you'll find that there's a number of guys that get nicked, give up runs from time to time. It happens. This is the Major Leagues. Those other guys get paid over there. They drive nice cars." -- Hurdle, on Cole's outing
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS • Only three of Cole's outings this year haven't earned the statistical distinction of being "quality starts." All three of those have come against the Reds: April 8 (five innings, three earned runs), May 6 (five innings, three earned runs) and Wednesday (4 2/3 innings, five earned runs). Against the Reds this season, Cole is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA. Against everyone else, he's gone 11-1 with a 1.33 ERA.
• With Aroldis Chapman on paternity leave, J.J. Hoover pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth for his first save of the season and his first since May 16, 2013, vs. the Marlins. The last Reds reliever besides Chapman to notch a save for the club was Jonathan Broxton on Aug. 24, 2014. Chapman had Cincinnati's last 24 saves. More >
REPLAY REVIEW With a runner on first base in the seventh, Gregory Polanco hit a two-out single to left field and took second base just ahead of a throw. DeJesus applied the tag on a sliding Polanco, who was ruled safe. The Reds challenged, believing Polanco was tagged as he came off the bag on his slide -- something that they successfully challenged twice against him on Tuesday. This time, however, officials ruled that the call by umpire Angel Hernandez stood. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Reds:Anthony DeSclafani is scheduled to start Thursday's 7:05 p.m. ET series finale against the Pirates at PNC Park. In two starts earlier this season vs. Pittsburgh, DeSclafani has given up five earned runs and 12 hits over 11 innings.
Pirates: Right-hander A.J. Burnett will look to get the Pirates' rotation back on track as he takes the mound Thursday. Burnett allowed a career-high 14 hits to the Nationals in his last start but pitched nine shutout innings in his last home outing, against the Phillies. Burnett is 2-2 with a 1.27 ERA in six starts at PNC Park this season.