By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — An all-morning rain drenched Great American Ball Park, forcing a 56-minute delay to the start of the Cincinnati Reds-Pittsburgh Pirates game Thursday afternoon.
For the Reds, it was worth the wait and worth dodging a few rain drops while Billy Hamilton ran the bases and Tim Adleman worked off the muddy mound.
For the second straight day the Reds were not overly impressed with a high profile Pittsburgh pitcher.
Ivan Nova walked to the mound Thursday with a 1.50 earned run average and the National League Pitcher of the Month for April trophy in his den.
The Reds scored two in the fourth and two in the fifth and used those runs to score a 4-2 victory over Nova and the Pirates to take three of four in the series.
ON WEDNESDAY JAMESON TAILLON entered the game with a 2-and-0 record and a 2.60 earned run average. The Reds rocked and rolled him for a pair of three-run home runs by Eugenio Suarez and Billy Hamilton en route to a 7-2 victory.
The pitcher of the day Thursday was Cincinnati starter Tim Adleman, who held the Pirates to a pair of runs over six innings and won his first game of the season.
“I’ve said all along that what I want is to go deep into games and keep my team in those games,” said Adleman. “If you had told me before this game that I’d go six and give up two, I’d take it.”
PITTSBURGH TOOK A 1-0 lead in the second on Francio Cervelli’s single and Gift Ngoepe’s double.
Jose Peraza, batting second on this day while Zack Cozart took a rest, led the fourth with a single and took third on Joey Votto’s double. Both scored on Adam Duvall’s hard single left for a 2-1 Reds lead.
“Cozart doesn’t need a day off, but I have to get Almendy Alcantara into a game,” said Reds manager Bryan Price. “So Jose Peraza slides back into second (in the batting order) for a day.”
Alcantara singled his first three time up and stole a base. But the big stolen base came in the fifth inning when Billy Hamilton singled and stole second.
It was the 200th major league stolen base for Hamilton, seventh on the all-time list, 21 behind Vada Pinson, sixth on the list.
After Hamilton’s theft, Joey Votto pulled a two-out double to right to make it 3-1 and Duvall tripled to left field to push the lead to 4-1.
The steal was Hamilton’s 16th in 17 attempts this year and Price said, “I’d hate to see him on another team and have to worry about him. And sometimes it can get lost among other things, like his ability to go first to third on a missile to the left fielder or take an extra base when nobody else on the field can do it.
“The big part of it is that in his first year his success rate wasn’t great,” Price added. “And what I’ve marveled at more than anything is what he has done in ’15, ’16 and ’17 because his success rate has shot up through the roof. It has been a phenomena.”
HAMILTON SAID HE WAS unaware of the 200 figure until a few days ago when he messed up his leg sliding and assistant athletic trainer Tomas Vera scribbled something on a wrap he placed on Hamilton’s leg.
“He wrote ’16’ on it and I asked why and he said, ‘Once you get to 199 steals I’ll let you know,’” said Hamilton. “The other day I got to 199 and he said ‘You have one more to go,’ and I said, ‘Oh, OK, now I know what you’re talking about.’”
ADLEMAN GAVE UP A RUN in the sixth on back-to-back doubles by Josh Bell and Cervelli, cutting the margin to 4-2.
He left after six solid innings — two runs, six hits, one walk, five strikeouts. Michael Lorenzen replaced Adleman and contributed two perfect innings with a strikeout.
Raisel Iglesias inherited the ninth inning and gave up a leadoff single to Josh Bell. He struck out Franciso Cervelli, got a force play at second on pinch-hitter Jose Osuna and ended it by striking out pinch-hitter Jose Osuna for his fifth save.
OF ADLEMAN PRICE SAID, “He was terrific. He was great. Threw strikes. Went right after them. He didn’t get himself in trouble by nit-picking and going deep into counts. Six innings, under 90 pitches (88) was excellent.”
Adleman worked on a slider this spring to complement his fastball, change-up and curve, but it didn’t go well and he returned to his three-pitch repertoire.
“In the spring, I wasn’t right, I wasn’t myself,” he said. “Given what I did last year with fastball, changeup, curveball, I felt like staying with that mix for now would be good enough. So far it has helped me get back on track.”
PRICE WANTED TO EMPHASIZE what Alcantara did — three for three with a stolen base.
“That was really a nice thing,” said Price. “More than anything is that the bench players, other than Scooter Gennett, don’t get to play a whole lot. It’s hard to get them regular time because we have a set lineup. For him to go in and pick up a game like that, it is just a boost for him.”
REDS ALL-TIME STOLEN BASES LEADERS:
Joe Morgan, 406.
Barry Larkin, 379.
Dave Concepcion, 320.
Bob Bescher, 320.
Eric Davis, 270.
Vada Pinson, 221.
BILLY HAMILTON, 200.
Edd Roush, 199.
Brandon Phillips, 194.