Pirates Open Series By Clubbing Reds

CINCINNATI – Clint Barmes had three hits and drove in three runs, and the Pittsburgh Pirates extended their home-run tear by hitting three more for an 8-4 victory against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.

Neil Walker hit a two-run homer, and Casey McGehee and Alex Presley had solo shots, giving the Pirates seven homers in their last two games.

A.J. Burnett (5-2) won his fourth straight start, beating the Reds for the second time in a week. He gave up three runs while pitching into the sixth.

Joey Votto singled home a run in the ninth off Juan Cruz, but Joel Hanrahan came on with two runners aboard and fanned the three batters he faced for his 15th save in 16 chances.

Pittsburgh scored six runs in only three innings off Homer Bailey (4-4), who had won his last three starts. It was his shortest outing of the season.

The Pirates have won eight of their last 10 games overall, moving two games behind first-place Cincinnati in the NL Central. It’s the closest the Pirates have been to first place since April 11.

The Pirates rank last in the league in batting average, runs and hits, but have shown a little liveliness lately. They’ve scored at least six runs in four of their last eight games. They hit a season-high four homers for a 6-5 win in Milwaukee on Sunday, and followed that with three more on Tuesday.

The Pirates tweaked their lineup before the game, calling up outfielder Alex Presley to bat leadoff. He tripled and homered off J.J. Hoover.

Bailey was coming off one of his best performances in the majors, a four-hitter last Tuesday for an 8-1 win at Pittsburgh. It was his second career complete game, both of them coming at PNC Park.

This time, he didn’t even make it past the third inning. Bailey gave up eight hits and six runs, matching his season high. Barmes had an RBI double in the second and Walker hit a two-run homer in the third. Barmes made it 6-2 with a bases-loaded, two-out single in the third on a 1-2 pitch from Bailey.

Votto singled home a run in the first inning, extending his hitting streak to a season-best 11 games. The Reds again had trouble with Burnett, who beat them 2-1 last Wednesday at PNC Park by going seven innings.

Burnett allowed only five hits but walked four and left after facing two batters in the sixth, his pitch count already at 100.

The Reds played a video tribute and held a moment of silence before the game to honor reliever Pedro Borbon, who died from cancer on Monday at his home in Texas. Borbon was a key reliever on the Big Red Machine.

NOTES: The Pirates optioned Gorkys Hernandez to Triple-A. … Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison, who grew up in Cincinnati, met high school teammates on the field before the game and got a loud ovation when he pinch-hit in the eighth. … The Red Hot Chili Peppers took batting practice before the game at the invitation of Reds RH Bronson Arroyo, a music enthusiast who is a friend of group member Josh Klinghoffer. The group performs in Cincinnati on Wednesday. … 3B Scott Rolen has started hitting off a tee and taking infield practice. Rolen has been on the DL since May 12 with an inflamed left shoulder.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.