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Castillo keeps rolling behind slam to beat Bucs

Adjustments paying off for right-hander after rough open to season
MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- The season did not begin well for Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo. He lost four of his first six outings, but has started to find his footing. The latest evidence of that came in a 5-4 win over Pittsburgh at Great American Ball Park that gave the Reds two of three games in the series.

Castillo pitched six innings and gave up two earned runs on four hits with two walks and five strikeouts on Thursday afternoon. Although his record stands at 4-4 with a 5.34 ERA in 11 starts overall, he is 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA over his last four starts.

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CINCINNATI -- The season did not begin well for Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo. He lost four of his first six outings, but has started to find his footing. The latest evidence of that came in a 5-4 win over Pittsburgh at Great American Ball Park that gave the Reds two of three games in the series.

Castillo pitched six innings and gave up two earned runs on four hits with two walks and five strikeouts on Thursday afternoon. Although his record stands at 4-4 with a 5.34 ERA in 11 starts overall, he is 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA over his last four starts.

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"I guess the adjustment -- and working as hard as I can work," Castillo said via translator Julio Morillo. "When you have that kind of start of the season, mentally you're just prepared to go and work hard on the things you're supposed to work on."

Shortly after new pitching coach Danny Darwin took over with manager Jim Riggleman last month, he noticed Castillo had dropped his arm angle somewhat. He wasn't getting on top of pitches, causing them to be moving flat across the plate and getting hit hard.

After an extra-inning game on Wednesday night, Riggleman acknowledged before Thursday's game that his taxed bullpen would benefit greatly from a lengthy outing from Castillo, and he provided just that.

"He's getting closer," Riggleman said. "We want him to end up being a seven-inning-plus guy. He's not quite there yet, but he's really making progress at refining his whole repertoire of pitches. He's another tough challenge for hitters in the league."

Riggleman noted Castillo likely would have gone deeper into the game if his spot in the batting order had not come up with the Reds trying to add to their lead in the sixth. Instead, Joey Votto pinch-hit for him.

After a quick first inning, Castillo put himself in a two-on, no-outs jam to start the second by walking Colin Moran and issuing a base hit to Austin Meadows, but managed to escape the threat unscathed. He induced an Elias Diaz groundball to Jose Peraza for a 6-4-3 double play and got Sean Rodriguez to chase an 0-2 changeup in the dirt to strand Moran at third base.

Video: PIT@CIN: Castillo K's Rodriguez, strands a runner

The bulk of Castillo's run support came on one swing in the third inning when Eugenio Suarez launched a grand slam over the left field wall. Suarez's third career slam was his eighth homer of the season.

Video: PIT@CIN: Suarez opens the scoring with a grand slam

Castillo retired 12 of the next 13 batters he faced after the threat in the second inning as he located all four of his pitches.

"He was establishing inside with his fastball and throwing that slider and changeup away," Meadows said. "Pretty decent command, he started to lose it toward the end there, but yeah, he was good."

A one-out walk to Adam Frazier and a David Freese two-run homer in the sixth proved to be Castillo's most costly mistakes.

"I made a mistake and [Freese] did what he was supposed to do with a mistake," Castillo said.

The Pirates mounted a late rally in the ninth. After a Corey Dickerson single, Meadows launched a two-run shot off Amir Garrett with one out. Jared Hughes came in and thwarted the comeback by quickly recording the final two outs.

Video: PIT@CIN: Hughes induces a flyout to earn the save

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Suarez makes Nova pay: When Suarez clobbered a 2-2 curveball into the left-field seats in the third to spot the Reds a four-run lead, it made Ivan Nova pay for a couple of self-induced mistakes. Nova walked Castillo on five pitches to begin the inning and then yielded a single to Jesse Winker. Scooter Gennett's swinging bunt dribbled down the first base line and Nova fielded it cleanly, but his throw to first sailed high and wide of Freese toward foul territory. All three runners were safe and Suarez pounced on the opportunity four pitches later. He said he was able to get out in front and barrel the ball up right as it broke towards his foot.

Video: PIT@CIN: Gennett reaches on Nova's throwing error

"I feel great after that one," Suarez said. "It was a really good hit with the bases loaded. Everybody called grand slam. I feel happy after that because I helped my team win and that is the most important thing."

Winker gets first homer of '18: Winker provided a crucial insurance run with his first home run of the year in the fifth. Nova offered a knee-high fastball on the inner half and Winker sent it well over the wall in left-center. It traveled 414 feet and came off the bat at 105 mph, according to Statcast™.

Video: PIT@CIN: Winker slugs a solo homer to center field

"It feels good obviously," Winker said. "I am just trying to keep on going, put the barrel on the ball and produce a tough at bat. That is really it. This month of May, I have had some bad luck, but you just keep going."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Reds first baseman Brandon Dixon recorded his first career hit on a sharply hit ball through the right side in the fourth. He followed it up with another single and a double into the right-center gap in the eighth, completing a 3-for-4 day.

Video: PIT@CIN: Dixon gets 1st 3 MLB hits in front of family

HE SAID IT
"He's a beast. He is awesome. It is great having him hit behind you, that is for sure. It seems like every time I get on, he drives me in. Hopefully we can keep doing that. It has been fun to watch. He is an incredible guy on and off the field. He is a very easy guy to root for and I benefit because I get to learn a lot from a guy like that." -- Winker, on Suarez

UP NEXT
The Reds head west for a nine-game road trip beginning with the Colorado Rockies on Friday. Sal Romano gets the ball coming off an outing in which he was tagged for seven earned runs on six hits and six walks in a loss to the Cubs. Votto will be glad to see the confines of Coors Field. In 28 career games there, he's batting .353 with six home runs and 22 RBIs. Jon Gray will get the ball for the 8:40 p.m. ET start for the Rockies. He is 4-6 with a 5.34 ERA.

Brian Rippee is a reporter for MLB.com.

Cincinnati Reds, Luis Castillo

3rd career slam gives Suarez some redemption

MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- In the 12th inning on Wednesday, when he had a chance to win the game for the Reds, Eugenio Suarez barreled a line drive to left field with runners on second and third base. It was caught by Corey Dickerson, but the drive was not deep enough for Joey Votto to tag up and score.

The normally easygoing Suarez was visibly upset that he didn't produce. On Thursday, it was Suarez who came through with the biggest hit -- a grand slam -- in the third inning of a 5-4 victory over Pittsburgh at Great American Ball Park. Suarez didn't take a big, booming swing against pitcher Ivan Nova -- and he didn't need to.

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CINCINNATI -- In the 12th inning on Wednesday, when he had a chance to win the game for the Reds, Eugenio Suarez barreled a line drive to left field with runners on second and third base. It was caught by Corey Dickerson, but the drive was not deep enough for Joey Votto to tag up and score.

The normally easygoing Suarez was visibly upset that he didn't produce. On Thursday, it was Suarez who came through with the biggest hit -- a grand slam -- in the third inning of a 5-4 victory over Pittsburgh at Great American Ball Park. Suarez didn't take a big, booming swing against pitcher Ivan Nova -- and he didn't need to.

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"That was a breaking ball down at my foot," Suarez said. "I just tried to put the barrel on it, and I hit it really well. I caught it right as the ball broke. It was really good."

Grand slams mean 40% off pizza

Suarez connected but didn't crush the 2-2 pitch from Nova. The exit velocity, according to Statcast™, was only 95 mph, and the ball traveled a projected 374 feet.

Enough to get the job done and turn a scoreless game into a 4-0 Reds lead.

Video: PIT@CIN: Riggleman on Castillo's outing, Suarez's bat

"Most guys, when they hit home runs, it looks like they took a nice, easy swing, but they squared it up so good that the ball really jumps," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "That ball really carried a long way for a nice, easy swing."

It was the third grand slam of Suarez's career and his eighth home run of the season.

The inning started ominously for Nova when he walked Reds starter Luis Castillo. Following a single on the ground to right field by Jesse Winker and a popout by Jose Peraza, Scooter Gennett hit a soft two-out grounder that was fielded by Nova. His throw, which went wide and was ruled an error, left everyone safe and extended the inning.

Video: PIT@CIN: Gennett reaches on Nova's throwing error

That opened the door for Suarez with the bases loaded.

"I always try to help my team when I have those situations," said Suarez, who was signed to a seven-year, $66 million contract during Spring Training. "I try to put a really good swing on it. I never try to do too much. I just try to drive in the closest one; this one was the guy on third base. I just tried to drive one in. God blessed me with four, and I'll take it."

Despite his missing 16 games this season with a fractured right thumb, Suarez's 38 RBIs have him tied with the Cubs' Javier Baez for the National League lead. He's hit six homers with 31 RBIs in 26 games since being activated from the disabled list.

"He's been really clutch for us," Riggleman said. "We just keep running him out there. He's a heck of a player."

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, Eugenio Suarez

Lorenzen aces first test in tight spot vs. Bucs

Top prospect Senzel fielding, taking BP without issue after bout with vertigo
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen couldn't wait to pitch again in a high-leverage game situation and was pumped about making his season debut on Wednesday night against the Pirates. Lorenzen had been on the disabled list since mid-March with a strained teres major muscle near his right shoulder.

In what ended up as a 5-4 loss for Cincinnati in 12 innings, Lorenzen came on to pitch the top of the 10th inning of a 4-4 game. According to Statcast™, his fastball averaged 96 mph, but he was hitting as high as 98 mph on the radar gun. The right-hander notched two routine outs and nearly retired the first three batters he faced, getting ahead of Sean Rodriguez with a 1-2 count.

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CINCINNATI -- Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen couldn't wait to pitch again in a high-leverage game situation and was pumped about making his season debut on Wednesday night against the Pirates. Lorenzen had been on the disabled list since mid-March with a strained teres major muscle near his right shoulder.

In what ended up as a 5-4 loss for Cincinnati in 12 innings, Lorenzen came on to pitch the top of the 10th inning of a 4-4 game. According to Statcast™, his fastball averaged 96 mph, but he was hitting as high as 98 mph on the radar gun. The right-hander notched two routine outs and nearly retired the first three batters he faced, getting ahead of Sean Rodriguez with a 1-2 count.

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"I was feeling pretty good, but then I tried to get too cool out there with a 1-2 count," Lorenzen said on Thursday morning. "I felt myself overthrow, got into a 3-2 count and it cost me like an extra 10 pitches rather than just putting him away."

Rodriguez drew a walk after looking at two fastballs and a slider for ball four. Josh Harrison followed by hitting a first-pitch slider for a single to put Lorenzen in a jam. But he got out of it with a David Freese groundout to second base.

"We'll learn from that one," Lorenzen said. "I know how much we're being used, so pitch efficiency is probably the most important. That will be an adjustment I'll make."

In the bottom of the 10th with two outs and a runner on first base, interim manager Jim Riggleman lifted Lorenzen for pinch-hitter Tony Cruz -- the last man on his bench. Lorenzen, who has two career home runs, would normally be allowed to hit for himself in that situation.

"I've been taking batting practice about every day in the Minor Leagues," Lorenzen said. "I feel good. I think they just wanted to get the first one out of the way. I understand that, but now that I've gotten my first one out of the way, [Riggleman] is going to be more open to use me however he needs to."

Lorenzen slugged a pinch-hit home run for the Reds on April 6, 2017, vs. the Phillies, that snapped a tie and led to a win. He loves getting to bat.

"I've begged them to do that," Lorenzen said.

Rainey remains cool, throws heat

In his big league debut for the Reds on April 10 at Philadelphia, reliever Tanner Rainey allowed four runs when he gave up a grand slam to Scott Kingery. Rainey gave up three runs, three hits and three walks in his second game two days later against the Cardinals before he was sent back to Triple-A Louisville.

Rainey was recalled Wednesday and pitched in a tight jam against the Pirates. After Homer Bailey left in the sixth inning with two runners on, Rainey walked his first batter, Harrison, but struck out Gregory Polanco and Francisco Cervelli and got a grounder to the mound from Josh Bell.

Video: PIT@CIN: Rainey gets out of huge jam in the 6th

"As to why that was different than the first time, maybe a little less jitters," Riggleman said on Thursday. "He probably had some jitters last night, but a little less than the first time."

Rainey's fastball averaged 98.7 mph and twice topped out at 99.5 mph, according to Statcast™. He also featured a very nasty 91-mph slider.

"Last night, I thought after getting behind in the count he collected himself, challenged hitters and threw strikes," Riggleman said. "He had a really devastating slider to put hitters away with."

Senzel update

Reds top prospect Nick Senzel, who is working way back from dealing with vertigo, has been at the team's player development complex in Goodyear, Ariz. Senzel, ranked No. 1 in the Reds system and No. 6 overall by MLBPipeline, has been taking groundballs and batting practice without issue. At some point, when cleared, Senzel will play in games at extended spring camp.

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, Michael Lorenzen

After late comeback, Reds can't put away Bucs

Gennett homers as Cincy erases 4-run deficit, but missed opportunities prove costly
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- The Reds seemed poised to have what might have been a memorable comeback win Wednesday over a contending Pirates club amid a rough season. Not only was Cincinnati burned in extras by the rulebook during a 5-4 loss in 12 innings at Great American Ball Park, it also couldn't take advantage of some wide-open chances.

A two-out RBI triple by Cincinnati native Josh Harrison in the top of the 12th inning proved to be the difference, and it foiled the Reds after they battled back from a four-run deficit.

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CINCINNATI -- The Reds seemed poised to have what might have been a memorable comeback win Wednesday over a contending Pirates club amid a rough season. Not only was Cincinnati burned in extras by the rulebook during a 5-4 loss in 12 innings at Great American Ball Park, it also couldn't take advantage of some wide-open chances.

A two-out RBI triple by Cincinnati native Josh Harrison in the top of the 12th inning proved to be the difference, and it foiled the Reds after they battled back from a four-run deficit.

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"That was a great ballgame, a great effort by everybody involved. Unfortunately, we have to say that in a losing cause," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said.

Controversy arose in the bottom of the 11th inning. With Jose Peraza on first base following a leadoff walk against Steven Brault in a 4-4 game, Brandon Dixon dropped a perfect bunt in front of the plate. Catcher Francisco Cervelli's throw hit Dixon on the back and Peraza went to third base on what appeared to be an error. However, Dixon was called out for interference, as the umpires ruled he didn't stay in the runner's lane to first base, instead running inside the baseline when he was hit by the throw.

Video: PIT@CIN: Dixon called out for running in baseline

"In my head, I was just running down the line like normal. I wasn't trying to stay inside. I wasn't trying to stay outside," Dixon said. "The ball actually hit me on the right shoulder so it wasn't even close. They called it. It's part of the rules."

Peraza was sent back to first base. Instead of a good chance to win with runners on the corners and no outs, the Reds had a man on first and one out. Jesse Winker was hit by a Brault pitch with two outs to put Peraza in scoring position, but Tucker Barnhart struck out to end the rally.

Video: PIT@CIN: Brault K's Barnhart to end the 11th

The Reds didn't think they were wronged by a bad call, but they felt they were wronged by the rule itself.

"It's a bad rule, but it's always been the rule," Riggleman said. "When you bunt the ball, you've got to get yourself inside that lane there. It's just almost impossible for the baserunner to do that. When you take a swing and/or bunt, you come out in that direction, and you're automatically inside the line. They got the rule right, but it's unfortunate. That one didn't go our way."

There was a chance to overcome the missed opportunity. Leading off the bottom of the 12th against Kyle Crick, Joey Votto hit a double to the right-field corner. Scooter Gennett followed with a lined single to center that put runners on the corners. Eugenio Suarez then lined out to left field, not deep enough for Votto to tag up and score.

"Suarez hit the ball very well, but [it was] a low line drive," Riggleman said. "The outfielder got in good position and was relatively close there. It was unfortunate. Suarez hit it on the barrel and had nothing to show for it."

Peraza drew a two-out walk to load the bases for the rookie Dixon, who grounded out to shortstop to end the game, snapping the Pirates' four-game losing streak.

Trailing, 4-0, in the sixth, the Reds scraped back into the game. Against Pirates starter Chad Kuhl, Gennett hit a first-pitch fastball for a two-out home run to right field.

Good bullpen work from Tanner Rainey and Jackson Stephens enabled Cincinnati to stay in striking distance. In the bottom of the eighth, after Gennett's one-out walk loaded the bases against Michael Feliz, Suarez lifted a sacrifice fly to left field. When Pittsburgh turned to lefty closer Felipe Vazquez for the four-out save, pinch-hitter Alex Blandino added a two-out RBI single that scored Barnhart.

Video: PIT@CIN: Blandino hits an RBI single to left

Peraza then battled Vazquez before hitting the game-tying RBI single to center field.

Video: PIT@CIN: Peraza ties the game with an RBI single

Reliever Dylan Floro gave the Reds a scoreless top of the 11th after a two-out double. In the 12th, Austin Meadows hit a leadoff double but was erased by a fielder's-choice comebacker to Floro off the bat of Jordy Mercer. With two outs, Harrison hit his triple to right field, and Mercer chugged around the bases. He scored just ahead of Gennett's throw with a slide that narrowly evaded catcher Barnhart's tag attempt.

Video: PIT@CIN: Harrison lines go-ahead triple in the 12th

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rainey escapes jam: Rainey, who was recalled from Triple-A Louisville earlier in the day, turned in two scoreless innings. It included Rainey working out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth in relief of starter Homer Bailey after he walked Harrison as his first batter. Rainey struck out Gregory Polanco and Cervelli before getting a comebacker from Josh Bell.

Video: PIT@CIN: Rainey gets out of huge jam in the 6th

SOUND SMART
According to Statcast™, Bailey came into the night as one of the hardest-hit pitchers in baseball. Of 61 starters who had faced at least 150 batted balls in play, Bailey's 46.3 hard-hit rate (a 95-mph exit velocity or higher) was the third highest. But the Pirates did not clobber the ball against him Wednesday. Their average exit velocity on contact against him was 81 mph, which is tied for the best he has had since last season. There were five hits of soft contact (less than 95 mph), and the only extra-base hit he allowed was Cervelli's two-run homer to left field in the top of the first inning.

Video: PIT@CIN: Bailey gets out of big jam in the 4th

"I got a few strikeouts when I wanted them, and for the most part, that is just kind of the way it goes," said Bailey, who allowed four earned runs on 10 hits in five-plus innings. "A hanging slider beat us in the first. Outside of that, we had few walks, and we were really trying to pitch around a few guys in a few situations. That was just a good baseball game, and they got the better of us in this one."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
None of the Pirates hits vs. Bailey were softer than the bunt single by Kuhl that scored Meadows -- from second base -- in the top of the sixth. Suarez charged aggressively from third base and the ball got past him to no man's land in the infield. Before Bailey could retrieve the ball behind Suarez, Meadows scored to make it a 4-0 game.

Video: PIT@CIN: Kuhl lays down perfect bunt for RBI single

"He bunted it right there between me and Eugenio," Bailey said. "I could kind of see it out of the corner of my eye. I thought he had it, and he was really close to getting it. It was just one of those weird plays."

HE SAID IT
"I wasn't going to pitch him any further, but to have his bat in there was certainly a consideration. I wanted to get him in and out of there one time tonight, not swinging the bat or anything to tweak something. I was glad he was able to give us a clean inning there in the 10th." -- Riggleman, on his decision to have his last bench player, Tony Cruz, pinch-hit for good-hitting reliever Michael Lorenzen in the bottom of 10th inning and flying out. Lorenzen made his season debut in the top of the 10th.

UP NEXT
The Reds will close out a seven-game homestand with the series finale against Pittsburgh at 12:35 p.m. ET on Thursday. Luis Castillo will take the mound for Cincinnati. In his last start, Castillo pitched five innings against the Cubs and gave up one run on six hits, but did not factor in the decision in the Reds' walk-off win in extra innings. Ivan Nova (2-4, 4.79 ERA) will get the ball for the Pirates. The game will be televised on MLB Network.

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

Reds place relievers Iglesias, Brice on DL

Lorenzen activated, Rainey brought up to replace arms
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- The Reds got one reliever back from the disabled list on Wednesday but lost two more bullpen assets to injury -- including a big one in closer Raisel Iglesias. That will force interim manager Jim Riggleman to choose his closer for each game based on matchups.

Iglesias was placed on the 10-day DL due to a strained left biceps in his non-pitching arm. Right-hander Austin Brice also went on the DL with a mid-back strain. Both stints are retroactive to Sunday. To replace them, Michael Lorenzen was activated from the DL and Tanner Rainey was recalled from Triple-A Louisville.

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CINCINNATI -- The Reds got one reliever back from the disabled list on Wednesday but lost two more bullpen assets to injury -- including a big one in closer Raisel Iglesias. That will force interim manager Jim Riggleman to choose his closer for each game based on matchups.

Iglesias was placed on the 10-day DL due to a strained left biceps in his non-pitching arm. Right-hander Austin Brice also went on the DL with a mid-back strain. Both stints are retroactive to Sunday. To replace them, Michael Lorenzen was activated from the DL and Tanner Rainey was recalled from Triple-A Louisville.

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"Iglesias' left biceps has been bothering him for some days," Riggleman said. "It's just tender, and he feels like it's really affecting him. As he extends out with his front arm to deliver the pitch, he's a little tentative. Rather than continue to deal with it, we're just going to DL him and bring Rainey in."

On May 9 vs. the Mets, Iglesias had to reach high to catch a ball and appeared to be in discomfort coming off the field. It didn't appear to affect him on the mound until Saturday, when he blew his second save (in 10 tries) in Game 1 of a doubleheader vs. the Cubs. A scoreless streak of 9 1/3 innings over 10 appearances for Iglesias ended when he gave up two earned runs and three hits, including a solo homer by Ian Happ to lead off the eighth inning.

In 20 appearances, Iglesias has a 2.08 ERA with a 0.92 WHIP and eight saves. Riggleman noted that Jared Hughes, Amir Garrett, Wandy Peralta and Lorenzen are all closer options until Iglesias returns. David Hernandez is also a former closer.

Brice has a 4.68 ERA over 25 innings across 21 games. Following a stretch in which he was quite effective, he has given up a run in four of his last five appearances.

"He's pitched through it and got a lot of treatment," Riggleman said. "He's pitched effectively, but it's lingering. That's basically the way we made room for Mike."

Video: ATL@CIN: Brice gets Acuna Jr. looking to start 6th

Lorenzen, who worked around a hit and a walk to pitch a scoreless inning in the Reds' extra-inning loss Wednesday, had been out since mid-March with a strained teres major muscle near his right shoulder. He completed a rehab assignment Sunday with Double-A Pensacola after he worked four scoreless innings over three outings.

Rainey gave up seven earned runs over two innings in two outings for the Reds earlier this season. With Louisville, he has a 2.04 ERA in 17 2/3 innings over 14 games. He pitched well in his return to the bigs, striking out three in two scoreless innings Wednesday.

Video: PIT@CIN: Rainey gets out of huge jam in the 6th

"We can't go in there with people -- maybe they can go, maybe they can't -- and if they do go, they have to be very limited. We need to have a full crew of people in there," Riggleman said

Hughes loves ground balls

Signed to a two-year contract in the offseason, Hughes has been a strong addition for the Reds' bullpen. He entered Wednesday tied for third in the National League with five double plays induced. According to FanGraphs, he's 11th in the NL with a 58.6 percent ground-ball rate.

Hughes is able to induce grounders often because he has an effective sinker that he throws 73 percent of the time, according to Statcast™.

"In my dream world, I would come in and throw three pitches and get three ground balls every inning," said Hughes, who entered with a 1.30 ERA in 23 appearances. "I'm trying to get ahead in the count and keep the ball on the ground. I trust the defense. Without them, I'm nothing."

Video: CIN@SF: Hughes coaxes DP to work out of a jam

Hughes has picked up ground-ball double plays in each of his last three appearances. Finishing Tuesday's 7-2 win with six pitches over one scoreless inning, he replaced Peralta after a leadoff single in the ninth. Hughes got pinch-hitter Jose Osuna to smoke a grounder to shortstop Jose Peraza for a 6-4-3 double play. Osuna's ball had a 100.1 mph exit velocity, according to Statcast™.

Hughes makes use of the Statcast™ metrics available to all players and has an idea where hitters are going to hit grounders against his sinker. That helps him form a plan going into the at-bat.

"I try to memorize all of it. Execution is the key," he said. "It's way easier to know where to throw it than to actually throw it there. I try to memorize everything -- exit velocity, ground-ball rates -- so when I am out there, it's a language I don't have to think about. I just kind of speak it."

Hughes got two more groundouts while pitching a scoreless ninth in a tie game Wednesday night.

DeSclafani pitching at Louisville on Friday

Starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (strained left oblique) was in the Reds' clubhouse Wednesday after returning from two rehab starts in Pensacola. He will next pitch on Friday at Louisville. In his Sunday start for Pensacola, he threw 76 pitches over five innings.

"It's going well," DeSclafani said. "I was very encouraged by my last outing. It is probably the best I have felt in a while. The ball is coming out of my hand really well, and I was throwing strikes."

DeSclafani is eligible to be activated from the 60-day DL on Monday but could get another rehab start after Friday.

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, Austin Brice, Raisel Iglesias

Harvey (6 IP, 1 ER) wins Reds home debut

MLB.com

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."

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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."

View Full Game Coverage

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.

Video: PIT@CIN: Harvey K's Moran to escape bases-loaded jam

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.

Video: PIT@CIN: Suarez smacks RBI double to left in the 1st

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.

Video: PIT@CIN: Gennett drives in his 6th run on sac fly

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."

Video: PIT@CIN: Riggleman on Gennett's grand slam, Harvey

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.

Video: PIT@CIN: Gennett hits a grand slam in the 5th

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.

Video: PIT@CIN: Hernandez retires Cervelli to escape the jam

SOUND SMART
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

UP NEXT
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.

Cincinnati Reds, Scooter Gennett, Matt Harvey, David Hernandez

Gennett slugs 5th Reds slam in just over a year

MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Pitchers can load the bases with an intentional walk ahead of Scooter Gennett. The Reds second baseman doesn't mind one bit, seriously.

Gennett has a year-plus of time logged with the Reds, and he's already zooming up the club's all-time list for grand slams. His hot stretch continued during Tuesday's 7-2 win over the Pirates when he drove in six runs, including a fifth-inning grand slam that turned a 2-1 Cincinnati advantage into a 6-1 lead.

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CINCINNATI -- Pitchers can load the bases with an intentional walk ahead of Scooter Gennett. The Reds second baseman doesn't mind one bit, seriously.

Gennett has a year-plus of time logged with the Reds, and he's already zooming up the club's all-time list for grand slams. His hot stretch continued during Tuesday's 7-2 win over the Pirates when he drove in six runs, including a fifth-inning grand slam that turned a 2-1 Cincinnati advantage into a 6-1 lead.

View Full Game Coverage

"Just being aggressive in that situation is the play for me," Gennett said. "They're not trying to walk you. They're going to throw the crazy curveballs in the dirt and let it run in. I think being aggressive and looking for a good pitch to hit is the way to go. It worked out today."

• Grand slams mean 40% off pizza

Following a one-out single by Jose Peraza and a double from Tucker Barnhart, Pittsburgh's Jameson Taillon intentionally walked Joey Votto with one out in the bottom of the fifth.

Gennett wasn't offended that the Pirates wanted to face him instead.

"It definitely makes sense for why they did. 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. "In that situation, I like getting up there with the bases loaded."

On a first-pitch changeup from Taillon, Gennett slugged a drive high into the right-field seats for the grand slam.

It was the sixth of his career and his fifth for the club in just under a calendar year. He is tied for seventh on the club's all-time list for grand slams.

Gennett, who also hit an RBI double in the first inning for Cincinnati's first run of the game and a sac fly in the seventh, notched his highest RBI total in one game since his four-homer, 10 RBI performance on June 6, 2017, vs. the Cardinals.

Video: PIT@CIN: Gennett drives in a run with double to right

"It was just a huge hit," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said of Gennett's slam. "He's got a lot of big hits for us. That's why we want him there hitting behind Joey, for that reason right there."

In 47 games this season, Gennett is batting .329/.358/.528 with eight homers and 33 RBIs. Over his past 14 games, he is batting .411 (23-for-56) with six homers and 19 RBIs. Following a breakout '17 season, he's shown no signs of regression.

Video: PIT@CIN: Gennett drives in his 6th run on sac fly

"It's just baseball. There's ups and downs," Gennett said. "I could go in there and look at video of the times I don't do good or strikeout. But lately, I've been looking at the times I do good, just trying to feed myself positive thoughts and vibes. This is a game of failure. For me lately, I've looked at the stuff when I am doing good. It seems to help. I will stick to that."

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, Scooter Gennett

A Bucs fan and a Reds fan teamed up

When you take your kid out to the the ballpark, you want him or her to have a good time. That's why you try to get there early for autographs and load up on delicious cotton candy. But you also want your child to be safe.

During Tuesday's game between the Pirates and Reds at Great American Ball Park, two fans -- a Pirates fan and a Reds fan -- teamed up to keep their son safe from a foul ball and get him that very same foul ball as a souvenir.

Reds promote versatile Dixon, option Herrera

26-year-old receives first MLB callup; Lorenzen to be activated Wednesday
MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- The Reds called up Brandon Dixon from Triple-A Louisville for his first big league promotion on Monday and optioned Rosell Herrera to Louisville. Dixon has hit .326 with four home runs and 14 RBIs with Louisville this season.

Dixon popped out in foul territory in the first inning of a game at Indianapolis on Monday and finished the inning in the field at third base. He was then taken out of the game and given the news he'd been called up.

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CINCINNATI -- The Reds called up Brandon Dixon from Triple-A Louisville for his first big league promotion on Monday and optioned Rosell Herrera to Louisville. Dixon has hit .326 with four home runs and 14 RBIs with Louisville this season.

Dixon popped out in foul territory in the first inning of a game at Indianapolis on Monday and finished the inning in the field at third base. He was then taken out of the game and given the news he'd been called up.

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"It's been kind of crazy," Dixon said. "I had to drive back to Louisville and get my stuff and then head out. It has been awesome. I FaceTimed my parents and they kind of broke down. It was a cool moment to have with them."

Dixon nearly made the Reds out of Spring Training, when he hit .326 with four home runs and 10 RBIs, but he was one of the final cuts. He carried his success over to the first month and a half of the season in Triple-A. Dixon has played third base a lot recently, but the righty has also played left field, first base and second base.

Video: CIN@SEA: Dixon cuts down Muno at plate for final out

"I feel like I fit that mold right now," Dixon said. "I play a lot of different positions and can come in off the bench. Whatever they need, I am excited to do. I have had a lot of time at second, left and first this year mainly, but every day is different. I have played three or four times at third this last week."

Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said Dixon had as good of a spring as anyone on the team, and he feels comfortable using him in a number of different positions.

"He has been seeing a lot of pitching and is probably more prepared right now than Rosell is, because Rosell has been sitting a lot here, so we sent Rosell out and brought in Brandon," Riggleman said. "He's made himself very playable in left field, second base, third base and played a lot of first base down below. I would feel comfortable putting him pretty much anywhere."

Lorenzen to be activated
Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen threw in the outfield at Great American Ball Park before Tuesday's game with Pittsburgh and is nearing a return with the team. He threw two scoreless innings on Sunday in a 20-pitch outing with Double-A Pensacola. The multi-inning outing was the final hurdle in his three rehab appearances since beginning the season on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder.

"I am excited to finally be here and see the light at the end of the tunnel," Lorenzen said. "I feel good with one day off and feel ready to go."

Video: CIN@SF: DeSlafani, Lorenzen throw in rehab assignment

Riggleman said Lorenzen is expected to be activated on Wednesday, giving him one more day off.

"When we bring him back to pitch, we would like to know, if needed, that he could throw a couple of innings, if not more," Riggleman said. "One more day off, [we] would be more assured he can give us a couple of innings."

Lorenzen said he's felt good for a few weeks now and has been eager to get back with the club.

"I wanted to be back three weeks ago, but I guess it is better than me enjoying the DL," Lorenzen said. "I want to be out there seeing the guys play and stuff. It has been tough to watch, but we have had -- with [Jared] Hughes and everyone -- good leadership, and they've been able to do well without me. I am just excited to come back and plug right in."

Lorenzen posted a 4.45 ERA in a team-leading 70 appearances last season, logging 83 innings while striking out 80 and walking 34.

Brian Rippee is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Reds, Brandon Dixon, Rosell Herrera, Michael Lorenzen

Krall talks journey from batboy to Reds exec

MLB.com

Back in 2002, Nick Krall was so determined to break into baseball that he supplemented a front-office internship with Oakland by working as the team's bat boy. Carrying equipment for the Moneyball A's -- and learning from Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta -- was just the start of Krall's 16-year baseball operations career, which reached a new height on May 10 when the Reds promoted him to general manager.

MLB.com's Mark Feinsand sat down with Krall during Spring Training to discuss his tenure overseeing the Reds' pro scouting staff that acquired players like Luis Castillo and Adam Duvall, the lesson he learned when Walt Jocketty acquired Scott Rolen and much more.

Back in 2002, Nick Krall was so determined to break into baseball that he supplemented a front-office internship with Oakland by working as the team's bat boy. Carrying equipment for the Moneyball A's -- and learning from Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta -- was just the start of Krall's 16-year baseball operations career, which reached a new height on May 10 when the Reds promoted him to general manager.

MLB.com's Mark Feinsand sat down with Krall during Spring Training to discuss his tenure overseeing the Reds' pro scouting staff that acquired players like Luis Castillo and Adam Duvall, the lesson he learned when Walt Jocketty acquired Scott Rolen and much more.

On Executive Access, Feinsand provides a unique look at the people building Major League teams by engaging in candid interviews with front-office personnel from around MLB. Each week, you'll find out how they broke into the game, why they do what they do and how they envision the future of baseball. Look out for new episodes on Tuesdays. Download, subscribe and help others find the show by leaving a rating and review on iTunes or your favorite platform.

Moss tosses 7 scoreless frames for Daytona

MLB.com @DKramer_

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Tuesday.

There's plenty of excitement in the Padres' pipeline surrounding their future middle-infield tandem of Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres' No. 1 and No. 7 overall) and Luis Urias (Padres' No. 3, No. 32 overall). Their defensive savvy and offensive production make them among the Minors' most exciting infielders, particularly after each made a promising impression at big league Spring Training.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Tuesday.

There's plenty of excitement in the Padres' pipeline surrounding their future middle-infield tandem of Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres' No. 1 and No. 7 overall) and Luis Urias (Padres' No. 3, No. 32 overall). Their defensive savvy and offensive production make them among the Minors' most exciting infielders, particularly after each made a promising impression at big league Spring Training.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Tatis appears to be emerging from a slump that lasted all of April, as he went 3-for-4 with a homer -- his sixth this month -- and four runs scored in Double-A San Antonio's 9-6 loss to Tulsa on Tuesday. The 19-year-old Tatis is now hitting .333 since his average dropped to .177 at the end of April, and Tuesday's game marked Tatis' second three-hit game in his past five contests. He's now tied with first baseman Josh Naylor (No. 14) for San Antonio's lead with nine homers after crushing an 0-1 offering during the second inning with no one on and two outs.

The rest of the best performances from top prospects on Tuesday

• Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays' No. 1, No. 2 overall) continued his torrid pace toward the next level with a 2-for-4 night for Double-A New Hampshire, which defeated Reading, 7-2. Guerrero is now hitting .423 for the season, which easily leads all of MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects. Second-highest in that category is Juan Soto, who was hitting .362 when he was called up by the Nationals over the weekend.

With fellow top prospects making the Major League leap early in the 2018 season -- Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., Yankees infielder Gleyber Torres, Soto and others -- many have wondered whether Guerrero might be next.

• Matt Manning (Tigers' No. 2, No. 51 overall) struck out nine for Class A West Michigan over six scoreless innings, lowering his ERA by more than a full run to 4.05 in what was arguably his best start of 2018. Manning has now thrown 12 straight scoreless innings at home, with two walks and 17 strikeouts.

Manning's ninth strikeout

• Ryan Helsley (Cardinals' No. 5) gave up back-to-back hits in the first inning of his outing for Triple-A Memphis, including a two-run single. But he responded by retiring his final 20 batters in what was yet another stellar start. The former fifth-round pick has now gone at least seven innings in each of his last three outings, with 25 strikeouts in that stretch. Scouting reports suggest that Helsley offers the versatility to wind up in the bullpen at the next level, with a fastball-curveball combination that might be well suited for shorter stints.

• Miguel Amaya (Cubs' No. 10) went 3-for-3 for the second time this season for Class A South Bend, with two walks and two runs scored in a 9-1 win. He's now hitting .333 over his last 12 games after starting the year in a two-week funk near the Mendoza line.

• Errol Robinson (Dodgers' No. 20) hit his third and fourth homers of the year to spark Double-A Tulsa's 9-6 comeback win over San Antonio. Robinson led off an eventual five-run eighth inning with a solo shot after belting one in the fourth. He's now on a six-game hitting streak, his longest of the season.

• Eduardo Diaz (D-backs' No. 11) collected a season-high four hits for Class A Kane County in its 8-7 win over Cedar Rapids, raising his batting average 51 points, to .212, in the process. Trailing 6-2 in the bottom of the third inning, Diaz launched a three-run homer -- his first since Sept. 2 -- that helped propel Kane County to a comeback, as part of a five-run frame. Diaz also laced a pair of triples and racked up three RBIs.

Diaz goes yard

• Joe Dunand (Marlins' No. 16) went 3-for-4 with a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning of Class A Advanced Jupiter's game against Daytona, the seventh of the season for the infielder, who is now hitting .295 with an .820 OPS this year.

Austin Wynns (Orioles' No. 22) homered for the second straight night as part of a 4-for-5 game in Triple-A Norfolk's 9-3 win over Charlotte. The 27-year-old tied a career high in hits, the fourth time he's notched at least four in a single game, while bringing his batting average up to .279 and his OPS to .777.

Wynns hits a homer

Enyel De Los Santos (Phillies' No. 12) turned in yet another stellar start in what has been a consistent trend in 2018, going seven innings, while giving up just one earned run for Triple-A Lehigh Valley and lowering his ERA to an International League-best 1.39. He is arguably off to the best start of his career.

• Austin Franklin (Rays' No. 13) gave up just one earned run over seven innings while tying a career high with nine strikeouts for Class A Bowling Green in its eventual 3-2 loss to Great Lakes.

• Scott Moss (Reds' No. 21) tossed seven scoreless innings for Class A Advanced Daytona in a win over Jupiter, marking just the second time in his career he's gone that deep into a start. He also struck out four and gave up just four hits in what was his best and most encouraging start of the season as he's 4-2 with a 5.12 ERA.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.