Jesse Winker had his first career two homer game and Sonny Gray continued his torrid strikeout pace as the Cincinnati Reds broke open a close contest with five runs in the last two innings for an 8-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
Nick Castellanos added a three-run homer off Chris Stratton to cap Cincinnati’s four-run seventh.
Gray (4-1) struck out 10, raising his season total to 45, a franchise record for a pitcher’s first five appearances. Luis Castillo set the previous mark of 41 in 2019.
Gray allowed five hits and one run – Bryan Reynolds’ first homer and run batted in of the season – with one walk in 6 2-3 innings.
Winker gave the Reds a 1-0 lead with an opposite-field homer starting off the second inning. His fourth home run of 2020 bounced about two rows deep off an advertising tarp stretched over seats in left field.
Reynolds tied the game with his booming shot to deep right-center field with two outs in the fourth.
Winker quickly responded, following Joey Votto’s fourth-inning leadoff double with a no-doubt drive to right that landed in a tunnel leading to the concourse. Gregory Polanco barely moved as the ball sailed over his head.
Winker’s extended his hitting streak to five games (11-for-16, .688). He has hit all five of his homers during the streak.
Both homers came against Chad Kuhl (0-1), who gave up four hits and three runs with one walk and six strikeouts in five innings.
Josh VanMeter led off the seventh with a double, went to third on Freddy Galvis’s infield hit and scored as Tucker Barnhart forced Galvis at second. One out later, Shogo Akiyama singled to center and Castellanos smacked his eighth homer of the season to center field, where it barely cleared the fence, out of the reach of Cole Tucker’s attempt at a leaping catch.
Galvis and Tucker Barnhart added back-to-back doubles in the eighth for Cincinnati’s final run.
Pirates: LHP Steven Brault (0-0) is 4-0 with a 1.99 earned-run average in four career starts and six relief appearances against the Reds, including 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in one start and four relief appearances in Cincinnati.
Reds: RHP Trevor Bauer (2-0) needs four strikeouts to set the franchise record for most by a pitcher over his first four starts of the set. Johnny Cueto set the mark in 2014 and it was tied this season by Gray.