PITTSBURGH (AP) – Marlon Byrd homered and drove in four runs, Todd Frazier belted his National League-leading ninth home run and the Cincinnati Reds handled the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-1 on Tuesday night.
Byrd hit a two-run shot in the third inning off Jeff Locke (2-2) and added two-run double in the ninth for the Reds. Frazier finished 2 for 5 for Cincinnati, which remained unbeaten against the Pirates this season.
Rookie Michael Lorenzen (1-1) worked six-plus innings for his first major league victory. The 23-year-old righty kept the struggling Pirates off balance, giving up one run and three hits, walking three and striking out four.
Starling Marte’s solo homer in the second off Lorenzen provided all of Pittsburgh’s offense. The Pirates have lost four straight and six of seven. Jeff Locke (2-2) struggled early before settling down — and received little help. The Pirates have scored five runs and left 46 runners on base during their four-game slide.
The Reds swept the Pirates during a season-opening series in Cincinnati, but have cooled off. Pittsburgh righted itself temporarily at the start of a nine-game road trip last week but dropped two of three to the Chicago Cubs before three walkoff losses in St. Louis.
The Pirates hoped a return home would provide some relief. Pittsburgh came in 10-1 in the last 11 games started by Locke at PNC Park, but the Reds wasted little time putting the Pirates in an early hole.
Frazier led off the second with a shot to the seats in right-center, extending an odd streak in which each of his last five hits were home runs. The Reds added another after loading the bases with no outs but the Pirates escaped without further damage thanks in part to a stellar double-play turn by second baseman Neil Walker and shortstop Jordy Mercer.
Marte cut the lead in half in the bottom of second with a liner over the fence in right field for his seventh home run. The boost didn’t last. Two batters into the third, Byrd — who helped spearhead Pittsburgh’s sprint to the playoffs in 2013 — sent a fastball by Locke over the notch in left-center to make it 4-1.
Locke managed to grind out seven innings, giving up four runs and seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts but his ERA rose to 4.85, easily the worst on Pittsburgh’s starting staff.
Lorenzen and Cincinnati’s bullpen did the rest. The Pirates loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth, but Jung Ho Kang flew out to center. Lorenzen was lifted in the top of the seventh after giving up a single and a walk. Reliever Jumbo Diaz got pinch-hitter Corey Hart to hit into a double play and when Byrd drilled a two-run double to the gap in right-center in the ninth off Pittsburgh reliever Antonio Bastardo the Reds were in total control.
Reds: SS Zack Cozart was given the day off to give his bruised right index finger a little more time to heal. Manager Bryan Price said Cozart was available if necessary. Cozart hurt the finger while fielding a groundball from Atlanta pitcher Julio Teheran in the fourth inning Sunday.
Pirates: RHP Charlie Morton threw a bullpen session Tuesday and is scheduled to make a rehab start at Double-A Altoona on Friday. Morton is recovering from hip surgery. … Pittsburgh gave struggling 3B Josh Harrison a scheduled day off. The leadoff hitter is batting just .188 this season.
Gerrit Cole, the National League Pitcher of the Month of April, makes his sixth start of the season Wednesday for Pittsburgh. Cole (4-0, 1.76 ERA) became the first Pirate to be named Pitcher of the Month since Randy Tomlin in June, 1992. The 24-year-old is 8-0 with a 2.40 ERA in his last 10 starts. Cincinnati counters with Mike Leake (1-1, 3.03). Leake is 4-0 with a 2.95 ERA in his last nine starts against Pittsburgh.