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DeSclafani, Reds can't contain Bucs' bats

Casali adds a homer in the 7th but Cincinnati falls short
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani came away from Saturday's rain-filled start vs. the Pirates bruised up by a comebacker from Corey Dickerson and beat up by the long ball -- also because of Dickerson.

DeSclafani's tough start left the Reds knocked down again with a 6-2 loss, their third in a row going back to DeSclafani's previous start last Sunday before the All-Star break. The Pirates have won eight straight games.

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CINCINNATI -- Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani came away from Saturday's rain-filled start vs. the Pirates bruised up by a comebacker from Corey Dickerson and beat up by the long ball -- also because of Dickerson.

DeSclafani's tough start left the Reds knocked down again with a 6-2 loss, their third in a row going back to DeSclafani's previous start last Sunday before the All-Star break. The Pirates have won eight straight games.

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"The velocity looked good. Everything looked crisp," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said of DeSclafani. "But we just have to find a better way to get these Pittsburgh hitters out. Their left-handed hitters, whether we play them in this park or their park, they have really done damage against us."

DeSclafani, who closed his first half with a 3 1/3-inning, six-run loss vs. the Cardinals, gave up three earned runs and six hits -- including a pair of Dickerson solo home runs -- over 4 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out six.

The game opened with the lefty-hitting Dickerson scorching a comebacker that skipped hard off of DeSclafani's right foot. It had him limping around the mound while he was checked out by the trainer and Riggleman. He took a couple of warm-up pitches, and was able to continue. After the game, X-rays taken of the foot were negative.

"Got me good. It's just a contusion," DeSclafani said.

With two outs in the top of the third, Dickerson slugged a first-pitch curveball from DeSclafani to center field for his first homer. During a lengthy top of the fourth that opened with a Gregory Polanco double and a one-out walk, Josh Bell's RBI double to right field made it a 2-0 game. A 47-minute rain delay after the third out halted the game.

Video: PIT@CIN: Dickerson hits a pair of solo home runs

DeSclafani and Pirates starter Nick Kingham both kept loose and were able to resume pitching after the delay. However, DeSclafani opened the fifth with his first-pitch fastball to Dickerson being lifted to right field for another homer and a 3-0 deficit.

"The second at-bat, I'm trying to work on the curveball and pick spots to do it," Dickerson said. "Me and Curt Casali were on the same page. We thought he was going to take the first pitch. I was trying to throw a get-me-over. Obviously, he didn't take. The ball went a mile. The second one, I wanted to try to go in and change the look. I was going away a lot to him. He smoked it. It was on the corner, but it was in the sweet spot, down and in."

After DeSclafani struck out Starling Marte, Riggleman lifted his starter for lefty reliever Kyle Crockett.

"Jim told me I was going to have a short leash because I sat for an hour with the whole rain delay," DeSclafani said. "They wanted to be cautious of my arm and the fact I got hit in the first inning. It was precautionary, just body-wise. They were trying to be smart."

Opening the season on the disabled list because of a strained left oblique, DeSclafani lost his first start on June 5. Then he went 4-0 with a 4.04 ERA over six starts from June 10-July 9 before dropping the last two outings.

One concern is that DeSclafani has given up a large amount of homers in a short amount of time -- 14 over 48 1/3 innings this season. According to Statcast™, hitters are barreling 8.1 percent of batted balls off DeSclafani, which is well above his career mark of 5.8 percent.

"That's just not keeping guys off balance," DeSclafani said. "If I can keep the ball in the yard, I can give myself a better shot. It's just those solo home runs are kind of chipping away. If I can find a way to get the ball off the barrel, I can go deeper and put up a better line and do what I know I can do."

Reliever Michael Lorenzen gave up two runs in the sixth on Kingham's single through the drawn-in infield, which gave the Pirates a 5-0 lead.

Video: PIT@CIN: Gennett cuts down Bell at home plate

Toward the end of the first half, when the Reds were the hottest team in the National League, they were just 1 1/2 games behind the fourth-place Pirates in the standings as recently as July 11.

It just happens that the Pirates haven't lost a game since then. Two games into the second half, the Reds haven't resembled the team that gained momentum in the past two months.

"[The Pirates] pitched pretty good, and Pittsburgh was hot before the break," Riggleman said. "They came out hot now, and they're playing good baseball. We're playing fine. We just haven't quite kicked it in with the bats yet. I'm confident we will. The effort and intensity we get, the emotions we get, guys are irritated about losing some games here and not getting the hits."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Reds -- who went down in order on five pitches in the second inning and six pitches in the sixth -- finally got to Kingham in the bottom of the seventh. Casali hit a two-run homer to left field to make it a three-run game. The long ball, which bounced back onto the field, was reviewed by replay officials but quickly confirmed.

"The past two days, we've gotten behind. Anything I can do to boost a little bit the dugout," said Casali, who has two homers this season. "We were quiet for the most part today, but a couple of balls we hit, we hit right on the nose. Joey Votto hit one on the nose to center field. You're going to have days like that where it doesn't drop. Their pitcher did a nice job tonight of getting ahead."

Video: PIT@CIN: Casali lifts a 2-run homer, call stands

HE SAID IT
"It actually hit me twice. There are seam marks on my forearm, and it rolled up and hit my bicep. It doesn't feel too good, but I will be all right tomorrow." -- Casali, who was hit on the right arm by a 98-mph fastball from Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez in the ninth inning.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
In the top of the first inning, Starling Marte slashed a single to left field and attempted to stretch for a double. Adam Duvall's throw was initially not in time, but Marte overslid second base and Scooter Gennett was able to dive with his glove to tag the runner for the out. The Pirates challenged the call, but replay officials determined that the call stands because it couldn't be determined clearly that Marte got back to second base in time before he was tagged.

Video: PIT@CIN: Duvall nabs Marteat second, call stands

UP NEXT
The Reds' three-game series vs. Pittsburgh wraps up at 1:10 p.m. ET Sunday at Great American Ball Park. Cincinnati will have Matt Harvey starting against Ivan Nova. Harvey is 4-0 with a 1.86 ERA over his last five starts and hasn't taken a loss since June 15 -- vs. the Pirates at PNC Park. He is 2-2 with a 4.85 ERA in seven starts against Pittsburgh in his career.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Anthony DeSclafani