By HAL McCOY
It was a night on which the wind chill factor was in the mid-20s that made hitting a baseball feel like hitting a 16-pound bowling ball.
But it only seemed to affect the Cincinnati Reds and not the Pittsburgh Pirates Thursday night in PNC Park.
The Reds mustered only five hits en route to a 5-2 defeat, their fourth loss in five games.
The Pirates, though, whacked Reds starter Homer Bailey for five runs (four earned) and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Pittsburgh scored four runs in the fifth inning, highlighted by a monster two-run home run by Gregory Polanco that landed in the shrubbery in center field. On a hot night the ball would have cleared the Roberto Clemente Bridge and landed on Grant Street in downtown Pittsburgh.
Polanco also drove in Pittsburgh’s first run with a sacrifice fly. Polanco, the man the Pirates hope will furnish the offense vacated by Andrew McCutchen, now has nine RBI in six games. He had only six RBI in all of April last season.
And the Reds were beaten by a stand-in emergency pitcher, left hander Steve Brault. He gave up one run and three hits in five innings and the Reds were unable to take advantage of four walks.
The Reds offense continues to be stagnant, particularly Joey Votto, Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza.
Votto was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and stranded three runners. He has yet to drive in a run and yet to collect an extra base hit.
He struck out to end the fifth inning with two men on base and the score tied, 1-1.
Hamilton, once again batting leadoff, was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, stranding two runners, and is 1 for 16 on the season.
Peraza dribbled his first ‘hit’ of the season, early in the game, a ball that rolled 15 feet up the third base line. He was 1 for 4, making him 1 for 16 on the season. He also made an error on which the Pirates scored their fifth run.
The Reds scored their first run on two wild pitches. Scooter Gennett singled and took second on a wild pitch and scored on another wild pitch.
That’s all they got until Adam Duvall hit a solo home run in the eighth inning.
The Pirates tied it, 1-1, in the third on Jordy Mercer’s double, Josh Harrison’s single and Polanco’s sacrifice fly.
It stayed that way until Bailey walked Harrison to open the fifth and Polanco drilled his long distance home run to make it 3-1. Josh Bell singled and scored on Corey Dickerson’s triple. Dickerson scored Pittsburgh’s fifth run when Peraza booted Francisco Cervelli’s one-hop line drive.
While the Reds have staggered at 1-and-4 to start the season, the Pirates (the team the Reds are expected to battle for last place) are 5-and-1 and are atop the National League Central.
The loss came in the Reds first road game of the season and they have three more in Pittsburgh, a team they beat 13 times in 18 games last season.