PITTSBURGH (AP) — Before he took the mound Tuesday night, Pirates starter Joe Musgrove just didn’t feel right while warming up in the bullpen.
In his quest to get things straightened out, he made a quick change to his approach.
That tactic seemed to work, as Musgrove took a shutout into the seventh inning for Pittsburgh in a 7-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Starling Marte hit a two-run homer and Gregory Polanco had a two-run double for the Pirates.
Musgrove (6-8) allowed two runs and struck out eight. He gave up five hits — four singles — over 6 1/3 innings. The key for him was trusting catcher Francisco Cervelli to make a change to the game plan because Musgrove didn’t have his best stuff.
“I learned a lot from him tonight about how to disguise pitches,” Musgrove said. “That was the earliest in the game I’ve gone to my changeup. Usually, the first inning or two, I’ve gone fastball heavy.”
That’s what this September is going to be all about for Musgrove, who has yet to finish a season as a starter in the majors. Last year with World Series champion Houston, he was moved to the bullpen as the Astros entered their stretch run.
“This is something that I haven’t really gone through, ever, where I feel so inconsistent with my delivery,” Musgrove said. “I feel like you never stop learning.”
Scooter Gennett homered twice for Cincinnati.
Marte’s homer in the fourth scored Pablo Reyes, who reached on his first major league hit. Polanco drove in Marte and Adam Frazier with a double in the third. Frazier doubled and scored on Francisco Cervelli’s single in the first.
Marte’s homer was the first for a Pirates player other than Frazier or Polanco since Aug. 15.
The top four batters in Pittsburgh’s lineup went a combined 8 for 17 and drove in five runs.
“You’re looking for contagions,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Hopefully, this was a contagion to get us going in a direction. We haven’t had a lot of consistency.”
Reds starter Cody Reed (0-2) permitted six runs and nine hits in a season-high five innings. It was Reed’s third start of the season for Cincinnati. He’s made 10 relief appearances.
Gennett hit solo shots in the seventh and eighth, giving him 22 homers this season. It was his second multihomer game of the year.
“The only positives we take from it are Scooter’s performance, really, and Cody finished up with a good fifth inning,” Reds manager Jim Riggleman said. “We’re trying to stretch him out a little bit. Hopefully we can get him sixth and further, eventually. I think the big blow of the game was Marte adding two more.”
Cincinnati chased Musgrove in the seventh and loaded the bases. Pirates reliever Richard Rodriguez hit Phillip Ervin with a pitch, allowing one run to score, but struck out Dilson Herrera and got Mason Williams to ground out to end the threat.
Making his first career start, Reyes hit an infield single in his second at-bat. He drove in his first career run with a double in the eighth to finish 2 for 4. The 24-year-old started the season at Double-A Altoona. “I’m so excited,” Reyes said. “This is something that I’ve dreamed since I was a kid.”
After the Triple-A season ended Monday, both teams added players from the minor leagues. Pittsburgh recalled RHP Tanner Anderson, RHP Michael Feliz, RHP Clay Holmes and OF Jordan Luplow, and selected the contracts of INF Kevin Kramer and C Ryan Lavarnway. The Pirates designated LHP Buddy Boshers for assignment. Cincinnati recalled RHP Tyler Mahle and RHP Keury Mella, and selected the contracts of C Tim Federowicz and OF Gabriel Guerrero.
Reds: Mella was placed on the 60-day disabled list with a left oblique strain, ending his season. He last pitched for Triple-A Louisville on Aug. 24.
Pirates: C Elias Diaz (right hamstring discomfort) is expected to miss at least 10 days and might not return at all this season, according to Hurdle. Diaz hasn’t played since he was removed from Friday’s game.
Reds: In the series finale Wednesday, RHP Homer Bailey (1-13, 6.13 ERA) will attempt to avoid becoming the first Reds pitcher to lose 14 games in a season since Mat Latos in 2013.
Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (11-9, 3.45 ERA) is scheduled to start. He is 2-0 and is holding opponents to a .217 batting average over his last three starts.
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