By HAL McCOY
A nova is a star that shows sudden brightness and Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Ivan Nova certainly is living up to his name.
And the Cincinnati Reds received a large does of Nova Thursday night in PNC Park during a 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Nova needed only 94 pitches to throw a complete game at the Reds, giving up one run and six hits. He struck out only four but he didn’t walk anybody.
SINCE THE PIRATES ACQUIRED Nova from the New York Yankees at the trade deadline he is 5-and-0 in seven starts.
The Pirates had lost eight straight games before beating the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday night. The Reds? Five straight losses and nine defeats in their last 11 games.
And last place seems to be where the Reds will squat in the National League Central. They are six games behind fourth-place Milwaukee.
PITTSBURGH GOT ALL THE RUNS Nova needed in the first inning against Dan Straily when they scored three runs.
Josh Harrison led the first with a double. Josh Bell struck out and Harrison was thrown out at third on a ground ball.
So there were two outs and a runner on first. But Gregor Polanco singled to left and took second on Adam Duvall’s throw to third.
And then the missing Billy Hamilton surfaced. With two outs and runners on third and second, Jung Ho Kang shot a two-strike line drive to center field.
Hamilton seems to make an inordinate amount of spectacular plays when Dan Straily pitches, but Hamilton was not out there this time.
Jose Peraza, an infielder by trade but playing center in place of the injured Hamilton, couldn’t quite reach a ball that Hamilton probably would have caught. The ball skipped to the wall, a two-run double. David Freese beat an infield single and Francisco Cervelli singled home a run to make it 3-0.
From there the Pirates littered the bases with runners but could score only one more run, a run Nova didn’t need. The Pirates stranded 13 runners and were 5 for 16 with runners in scoring position.
NOVA RETIRED THE FIRST 12 Reds in a row before Nova’s error on Adam Duvall’s nubbed grounder put the first Cincinnati runner of the game on first base.
Brandon Phillips hit into his 18th double play of season before Scott Schebler singled for the team’s first of only six hits.
The Pirates also helped Nova with at least four outstanding defensive plays, three on hard-hit ground balls.
The Reds scored their only run in the sixth when Tucker Barnhart started the inning with a bunt single. Pinch-hitter Hernan Iribarren singled, putting runners on second and first with no outs.
But they scored only once. Jose Peraza hit into a double play and Barnhart scored on Zack Cozart’s infield hit.
The Pirates retrieved that run in the bottom of the sixth against Keyvius Sampson on a double by Josh Harrison, a walk and a single by Andrew McCutchen.