PITTSBURGH (AP) — Chad Kuhl allowed four hits in seven efficient innings, Starling Marte went 3 for 4 and scored three times and the Pittsburgh Pirates had little trouble with the Cincinnati Reds in a 6-0 victory on Thursday night.
Kuhl (4-7) struck out six and walked two as the Pirates beat the last-place Reds for just the second time in 10 tries this season. David Freese went 3 for 4 with two RBIs for Pittsburgh. Andrew McCutchen also drove in a pair of runs. John Jaso’s pinch-hit single in the seventh ended an 0-for-34 skid.
Cincinnati rookie Sal Romano (2-3) was knocked around early, allowing four runs on eight hits in six innings.
The Reds managed just four singles against Kuhl and two relievers as their three-game winning streak was snapped. Cincinnati went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base. Billy Hamilton was ejected in the fifth after arguing a called third strike with umpire Todd Tichenor.
Kuhl began the season as Pittsburgh’s fourth starter and the team has stuck with him even as he struggled to find any sort of rhythm. He went more than two months between victories and worked into the seventh inning just once in his first 14 starts.
Manager Clint Hurdle preached patience, and Kuhl is making progress. Kuhl is now 2-2 with a 2.93 ERA since July 1 and needed just 96 pitches to get 21 outs on Thursday.
The Pirates, in danger of falling out of the NL Central race thanks to a 2-8 slide against also-rans San Diego, San Francisco and Cincinnati, wasted little time getting to Romano.
Marte led off with a single and came around to score when Adam Frazier singled and left fielder Adam Duvall’s throw overshot third base. McCutchen drove in Frazier with a groundout to give Kuhl and early 2-0 lead.
Pittsburgh’s advantage doubled in the third. Marte led off with a double and raced home on an RBI single by McCutchen. Two batters later, Freese drove in McCutchen.
Cincinnati’s only real push came in the fourth. Joey Votto led off with a walk and Duvall singled, but Kuhl retired the next three batters to end the threat.
Reds: P Anthony Desclafani, on the disabled list since April 2 with sprained ligament in his right elbow, exited a rehab start in Class A Dayton with right forearm discomfort. Desclafani — who surrendered eight runs on eight hits before leaving the game — will be re-evaluated in Cincinnati on Friday.
Pirates: 2B Josh Harrison was given the night off to rest his achy left ankle. Harrison initially hurt the ankle in a victory over San Diego on Sunday. He pinch hit on Wednesday.
Reds: Cincinnati returns to Great American Ballpark for a seven-game homestand beginning with a weekend set against St. Louis. Rookie Asher Wojciechowski (1-1, 4.50) makes his fifth career start on Friday.
Pirates: Pittsburgh welcomes San Diego for a three-game series on Friday. Ivan Nova (10-8. 3.75) faces Travis Wood (2-3, 6.42) in the opener. The Padres took two of three from Pittsburgh in San Diego last weekend.
(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)