By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — Matt Harvey’s trade stock took a steep bear market plummet and plunge Sunday afternoon in Great American Ball Park.
With several major league scouts jotting notes, the Pittsburgh Pirates took apart Harvey in the first two innings like a Mr. Potato Head — six runs on two doubles and three home runs.
After a 1-2-3 third, Harvey gave up his fourth home run of the game to the first batter in the fourth and his day was soon over, albeit very short. The homer-happy Pirates have homered in seven straight games, a total of 18 home runs.
As one scout said of Harvey, “They can keep him.”
When it finally ended, the Pirates were possessors of a three-game sweep via a 9-2 victory as Pirates starter Ivan Nova whip-lashed the Reds on no runs and three hits over six innings.
In fairness, Harvey ran into a Pittsburgh team that is poker hot, winners of nine in a row and 11 of their last 12. And Pirates left fielder Corey Dickerson continues to treat the Reds like his personal dart board, four more hits Sunday.
He hit another home run, a two-run rip in the second inning, his fourth home run in the three-game series, all Pittsburgh victories. He began the game with a double and scored on Gregory Polanco’s home run to give the Pirates a 2-0 first-inning lead and Dickerson was on his way to a four-hit day.
“Dickerson and Eric Thames (Milwaukee), you know? Those two guys have been Reds killers,” said Reds manager Jim Riggleman. “Six of his 11 are against us this season. Balls are flying out of the ball park and their guys are hitting them. We have to find a way to keep the ball in the park and keep ‘em on the ground.”
The Pirates hit nine home runs in the three games. The Reds? One. And that was hit by back-up catcher Curt Casali.
Harvey hadn’t given up a home run in his last six starts but the Pirates lobbed them over the walls like hand grenades.
“That’s baseball and you aren’t going to go a whole season without giving up a home run,” said Harvey. “Unfortunately, as good as I’ve been, there is a part of baseball where you are going to run into hot bats. And when you don’t execute pitches and leave stuff over the plate a hot team is going to make you pay.”
The first thing Harvey did after the carnage was check the tape and what he saw was disturbing.
“My slider wasn’t doing a whole lot and my fastball was moving back over the plate,” he said. “It was a rough one. Today was a bad one, but I’m healthy and have thrown the ball pretty well before today.
“My time here in Cincinnati has been awesome, other than today,” he said, refusing to chat about this possibly being his last start in a Reds uniform. “I’ve been pretty successful but I have to flush this one and start anew tomorrow.”
Sean Rodriguez doubled with one out in the second and scored on Max Moroff’s single. Dickerson then homered and Starling Marte followed him with a homer to extend his hitting streak to 15 games and conclude a four-run inning to push Pittsburgh’s lead to 6-0.
When Rodriguez homered to lead the fourth and Dickerson singled with two outs for his third straight hit, Harvey was clubhouse-bound — 3 2/3 innings, eight runs, eight hit, no walks, two strikeouts. When he left the field he took a 5.21 earned run average with him.
On the team side, this certainly wasn’t the way manager Jim Riggleman and the Reds envisioned the way the season would resume after the All-Star break. They hoped to creep up on the fourth-place Pirates and continue a march toward .500 respectability.
Instead, they lost three straight to the Pirates and are now 7 1/2 games ahead of the last place Reds, who have dropped 13 games under .500. And they didn’t just lose three to the Pirates, they were annihilated, outscored 27-5 and outhit 43-21.
The recipient of the early run onslaught was Pittsburgh starter Ivan Nova, who not only shut down the Reds for six innings but added insult by ending his 0 for 63 streak in the batter’s box with a single off the right field wall in the fifth inning off Jackson Stephens.
Nova shut the Reds out for six innings on three hits and nobody reached second base. But the Reds chased him in the seventh with a walk to Jesse Winker, a double by Adam Duvall and a two-run single by Phillip Ervin.
For the three-game series the three Reds starters (Tyler Mahle, Anthony DeSclafani, Matt Harvey) pitched 14 1/3 innings and gave up 17 earned runs, a 10.67 earned run average.
All the Reds Hall of Famers in town for this year’s induction of Adam Dunn, Fred Norman and Dave Bristol have to be wondering, “Is this all there is?”
On the positive side, maybe, the St. Louis Cardinals come to town for a three-game series, beginning Monday night, and their starting pitchers for the first two games are making their major league debuts.
Of his team’s horrible series, Riggleman added, “They pitched well. We just had the four days off and didn’t come out firing on all cylinders offensively. It is disappointing, but you hit some times when you aren’t hitting on all cylinders.
“This is the ebb and flow of it and you like to minimize it as much as possible on the down side,” he added. “We ran into a hot club and we have to push the reset button and get it going tomorrow.”