Reds still aiming for playoffs as they face Pirates

Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates will look to continue their success at PNC Park against the visiting Cincinnati Reds when the teams play Saturday.

The clubs split a doubleheader Friday, a 4-2 Reds win followed by a 4-3 Pittsburgh victory.

Even though the Pirates were technically the road team in their win, they improved to 12-3 in their past 15 games against Cincinnati at their home park.

One formula that played out Friday had to do with Cincinnati veteran Joey Votto — stopping or slowing him seems to work heavily in Pittsburgh’s favor.

In the Reds’ win, Votto singled to extend his hitting streak to seven games, scored a run and walked. In the Reds’ loss, he was 0-for-2 to halt his hitting streak, albeit with a walk and a run scored, and he made a costly fielding error at first base.

Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton admires the veteran’s doggedness on offense.

“He doesn’t give in,” Shelton told AT&T Sportsnet of Votto. “I think that’s the biggest thing. When you see guys that are that tough (an out), he’ll do anything to put that bat on the ball. He’ll do anything to foul balls off.

“And he extends his at-bat. When guys have the ability to extend at-bats, they end up getting the pitch they’re going to hit and they end up getting hits.”

For the Pirates (12-25), picking up as many wins as possible and seeing good development — such as rookie Ke’Bryan Hayes, who went 2-for-3 with a triple and scored a run in the nightcap Friday — are the benchmarks.

The Reds (17-22), though, are investing a lot of emotion into making a run at a playoff spot.

“Winning at the big league level, it’s really thin margins, man,” said Cincinnati’s Trevor Bauer, who started and took the loss in the second game Friday — a game where the Pirates’ winning run came home on a double-play grounder.

“We haven’t stacked together enough complete efforts consistently enough to win.”

In the third game of the four-game series, Cincinnati right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (1-2, 7.71 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh right-hander Trevor Williams (1-5, 5.50 ERA).

Williams has been charged with three earned runs or less in six of his seven starts, but wins have proven hard to come by.

On Monday, he took a loss in Milwaukee as he was pulled after four-plus innings when he gave up five runs, two of them unearned, and seven hits, with six strikeouts and two walks.

Errors have been a problem for Pittsburgh, which made two of them that night. If it’s not the fielding, it’s the offense, or the pitching, which doesn’t leave a lot of areas untouched.

“Stuff is clicking in different areas, and we’re just waiting for it all to click together,” Williams said.

Perhaps facing the Reds, and specifically a rematch, will help Williams’ fate. He is 6-2 with a 3.13 ERA in 13 career games, 10 of them starts, against Cincinnati.

This year, his only win came when he was matched against DeSclafani on Aug. 13.

DeSclafani is coming off a performance to forget. In his first start being back from paternity leave, he allowed seven runs, seven hits and four walks, with three strikeouts, in 3 2/3 innings Monday in a 7-5 loss to St. Louis.

“I think it was just pretty embarrassing overall,” DeSclafani said.

–Field Level Media

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