PITTSBURGH (AP) Connor Joe and Jack Suwinski hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning, Roansy Contreras took a shutout into the seventh and the Pittsburgh Pirates held off the Cincinnati Reds 4-3 on Thursday night.
Joe hit a three-run blast to center on a full count off Luke Weaver to open the scoring. Suwinski followed with a shot into the right-field stands for his fourth homer in four games to put the Pirates ahead 4-0.
“We had a good plan as a team against Weaver,” Joe said. “We were just being aggressive in the zone. I saw a couple of pitches prior to the 3-2. I got the fastball where I like it, and I was happy to take that swing.”
That was all the offense the Pirates - who didn’t get a hit after the second inning - needed as they won for the 12th time in 17 games since losing two of three to the Reds in Cincinnati to open the season.
“We were ready to hit. We had a good approach,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “We did a good job of attacking Weaver and then he kind of changed his pitch mix. The changeup was really good after the second inning, and he went to it a lot.”
Contreras (2-1) gave up one run and five hits in 6 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts and two walks. It was the 10th straight game in which a Pirates starter pitched at least six innings. It is Pittsburgh’s longest streak since 2015.
Contreras consistently baffled the Reds with his slider.
“Part of the evolution of baseball right now is you’ve got to spin the ball whenever you can,” Pirates catcher Austin Hedges said. “Guys in this league hit fastballs. When you’re behind in the count or in fastball counts and you’re able to rip a slider - that’s how you last in this league.”
The Reds broke their streak of 24 consecutive scoreless innings when Jake Vosler singled in the Reds’ first run in the seventh off Contreras.
Cincinnati got within a run with a two-run eighth during which Jonathan India hit an RBI single and scored on Spencer Steer’s sacrifice fly. India finished with three hits.
The two runs were the first allowed by Colin Holderman this season in nine innings over nine appearances. David Bednar pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save.
Weaver (0-1) worked six innings in his first start after beginning the season on the injured list because of right forearm discomfort. He gave up four runs and four hits, struck out eight and walked two.
“There were a lot of variables involved, one being settling down and getting rid of a lot of the emotion of it being my first start of the season,” Weaver said. “It’s tough to go out there and use the emotion when you feel like you’re drowning. I was just missing down or in or away.
“The umpire was making good calls, but they were tight and I was just missing with my pitches.”
RHP Hunter Greene (bruised right tibia) is expected to start Sunday’s series finale. ... Steer (right knee/quadriceps soreness) returned to the lineup after missing three straight games. ... RHP Levi Stoudt was optioned to Triple-A Louisville to open a roster spot for Weaver being activated from the injured list.
Graham Ashcraft (2-0, 1.42) starts for the Reds on Friday night against Mitch Keller (1-0, 3.80) in the second game of the four-game series. - AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
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