CINCINNATI (AP) — Josh Bell is finishing off one of the best power-hitting months in Pirates history.
The switch-hitting first baseman tied the club record with his 12th homer in May , and Pittsburgh beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-2 Wednesday for a split of their four-game series that ended with more bruised feelings.
Bell’s three-run homer gave him 18 overall and equaled Jason Bay’s mark of 12 in May 2006. His 23rd extra-base hit in the month left him one shy of Paul Waner’s club record for any month.
Bell also had a pair of singles, raising his average to .345 and extending his hitting streak to nine games. He’s hit safely in 28 of the last 29 games.
“It’s been one of the most special starts I’ve seen in all the years I’ve been at the major league level, and I’ve seen some really good players,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
The Pirates already had starters Trevor Williams and Jameson Taillon on the injured list heading into the series, and Jordan Lyles had to leave Tuesday night after only four innings because of discomfort in his left hamstring. Bell was the constant, going 7 for 17 during the series with two homers.
“He’s seeing everything so well, it’s a joke,” left-hander Steven Brault said. “He’s going to hit something hard.”
The series wrapped up with another tense moment between the Ohio River rivals. Reds manager David Bell was ejected by umpire Jeff Nelson in the eighth for a heated discussion with the umpire crew after Eugenio Suarez was hit by a pitch.
Pittsburgh’s Clay Holmes got Suarez on the back of the left hand with a fastball. Suarez walked toward the mound and exchanged words with Holmes , but players stayed in the dugouts. Suarez left the game for X-rays that were negative. Bell continued arguing.
“Clearly, we’re not going to be protected by the umpires,” said Bell, who’s been ejected four times this season. “Clearly, they think it’s OK to let them throw at our hitters. The league seems to think it’s OK.”
Last season, a pitch by Taillon broke Suarez’s right thumb, causing him to miss 16 games.
“I just wanted to let them know I don’t like that up-and-in,” Suarez said. “Last year they hurt my thumb. I wanted to know why he hit me. They said it wasn’t intentional.”
Colin Moran also had a three-run shot off Anthony DeSclafani (2-3), who has given up seven homers in his last three starts.
Brault (2-1) allowed three singles in 5 1/3 innings, his latest shutdown performance against the Reds. Brault is 4-0 career against Cincinnati with a 1.03 ERA and a scoreless streak of 19 2/3 innings.
His biggest task was stopping Derek Dietrich, who homered three times during an 11-6 win Tuesday night. Seven of Dietrich’s 17 homers this season are against the Pirates, including one he admired last month at PNC Park that upset the Pirates and led to a benches-clearing fracas. Dietrich was limited to a pair of singles.
The Pirates are 7-3 against the Reds this season, including 3-3 at Great American Ball Park.
Waner set the club record for extra-base hits in a month by piling up 24 in June of 1927 and again in August of 1928.
HERE COMES THE SUN
The start of the game was delayed 2 hours, 13 minutes because of rain. The delay didn’t bother the Pirates, who matched their season high with 15 hits.
“It was a good day,” Hurdle said. “The sun came out, the bats showed up.”
Brault retired the side in order to open the game, the first time a Pirates had a clean first inning since May 19.
Pirates: Williams has resumed throwing off a mound. He’s been sidelined since May 17 with a strained right side. Taillon hasn’t resumed throwing. He’s been on the injured list since May 4 with a strained elbow. … Infielder Jung Ho Kang will play third base, shortstop and DH during his rehab assignment as he recovers from a strained left side. … Catcher Francisco Cervelli will be examined Thursday as he recovers from a concussion.
Reds: Joey Votto missed a third straight game with tightness in his right hamstring. He was available to pinch hit.
Pirates: Joe Musgrove (3-5) faces Milwaukee’s Chase Anderson (2-0) as Pittsburgh opens a four-game series at PNC Park.
Reds: Following a day off, Cincinnati opens a three-game weekend series against Washington at Great American Ball Park. Tyler Mahle (1-5) faces left-hander Patrick Corbin (5-2).
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