By Hal McCoy
Nothing else seems to work so why don’t the Cincinnati Reds burn their gray road uniforms.
And while they are at it, throw their bats in the bonfire, too.
With a non-competitive 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates Friday night in PNC Park, the Reds are now 1-and-9 on the road this season.
THEY PUT THEIR leadoff batter on base in five of the nine innings, but only one scored and that was only because Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen misplayed a two-out fly ball in the ninth inning.
Reds starter Dan Straily was decent, holding the heavy-hitting Pirates to two runs and five hits over five innings.
It was noteworthy because the Pirates ran out five .300 hitters on their lineup card. The Reds had three.
On the other side, the Reds could do nothing against 29-year-old right hander Juan Nicasio, who came into the game with a 2-2 record and a 4.50 earned run average.
BUT THE REDS, losers of five straight, collected no runs and only three hits in seven innings and the Reds struck out eight times.
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the third with an old nemesis contributing. A walk. Straily gave up a single to Jordy Mercy to lead the inning and he took second on a sacrifice bunt. Staily, who walked three, walked John Jason and with two outs David Freese singled to right to score Mercer.
The Pirates made it 2-0 in the fourth. Straily walked Francisco Cervelli to open the inning, but Gregory Polanco lined into a double play. But with two outs and nobody on, Cincinnati native Josh Harrison homered to right.
CINCINNATl was still within striking distance in the seventh when manager Bryan Price brought in much-troubled J.J. Hoover.
He retired the first two Pirates, but Mercer, who was 0 for 10 in his career against Hoover, singled up the middle and pinch-hitter Matt Joyce pulled one directly down the left field line just inside the foul pole and into the first row of seats, a two-run homer to make it 4-0.
Joey Votto, who had two of the Reds six hits, singled to open the ninth against relief pitcher Arquimedes Caminero, who threw an assortment of plus-100 miles an hour fast balls.
With two outs Tucker Barnhart busted one to deep center that should have been the third out. But McCutchen, one of baseball’s best defensive center fielders, got turned around on the ball and it glanced off his glove and was ruled a run-scoring double.
If Hoover hadn’t given up the two-run home run to Joyce, the scored would have been 2-1 with the tying run on second base.
Pittsburgh Manager Clint Hurdle brought in closer Mark Melancon at that point, much lesser pressure at 4-2 than it would be at 2-1, and it took Melancon two pitches to end the game, a soft fly ball to right by Scott Schebler.
The Reds left home with a 9-and-10 record and are now 9-14 after getting swept three games in New York by the Mets and this first game of a three-game series in Pittsburgh.