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Andrew McCutchen belts homer to lead Pittsburgh Pirates past Cincinnati Reds

By Jeff Wallner, The Sports Xchange
Andrew McCutchen belts homer to lead Pittsburgh Pirates past Cincinnati Reds
Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22). Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

CINCINNATI -- These days, the Pittsburgh Pirates aren't concerned about just finishing above .500.

Despite having much loftier aspirations, the significance that the Bucs notched victory No. 82 on Tuesday night wasn't lost on manager Clint Hurdle.

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"It is tangible evidence of us being in a better place," Hurdle said. "We had 20 consecutive losing seasons as an organization. I was here for two of them. I felt the angst of the city and the fan base. We talked about creating a new sense of direction and history."

On Tuesday, Andrew McCutchen hit a three-run home run and Francisco Liriano allowed only three hits in six innings, lifting the Pirates to a 7-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.

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Liriano (10-7) was stellar on the mound and at the plate. He issued one walk, struck out 10, and went 2-for-3 with a double and run scored.

"He's in a good place on offense," said Hurdle.

Third baseman Jung Ho Kang hit a solo homer and Starling Marte went 3-for-5 with a double and run scored for the National League wild-card leading Pirates (82-55), who began play 5 1/2 games behind the first-place Cardinals in the NL Central standings.

Raisel Iglesias (3-7) took the loss for Cincinnati (57-80), which suffered just its fifth loss in 15 meetings this season against Pittsburgh.

The Pirates now have emerged victorious in 12 of Liriano's last 13 starts.

"I was able to locate my fastball better and throwing my breaking ball for strike two helped," Liriano said. "They have a pretty good lineup. Just went out and tried to execute pitches. Changeup was working pretty good tonight."

It was a costly loss for the Reds, who lost a pair of left fielders in the game.

In the fifth, Adam Duvall left with a left knee contusion after being struck by a pitch and Kristopher Negron exited in the seventh after partially dislocating his left shoulder making a diving catch.

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X-rays on Duvall's knee were negative. Negron will be examined again Wednesday.

Kang's monster shot in the eighth off right-hander Collin Balester traveled an estimated 447 feet into the left-center field bleachers, putting the Pirates ahead 6-0.

Shortstop Eugenio Suarez tripled home two runs during a three-run ninth for Cincinnati.

With one out in the first, Marte's double off the wall in right-center was misplayed for an error by center fielder Jason Bourgeois, allowing the Pirates left fielder to reach third.

Iglesias, who struck out a combined 23 batters in his previous two outings, fanned two straight Bucs batters to end the inning. However, the rookie right-hander had a nightmarish third.

The Pirates went ahead 1-0 when Liriano doubled and scored on right fielder Gregory Polanco's single to right.

"They took advantage of some mistakes," said Reds manager Bryan Price. "It started with Liriano. He fell behind and elevated a pitch and Liriano smoked it for a double. After that, it was off to the races. He wasn't making the same sequence of pitches he normally makes."

Following a single by Marte, McCutchen crushed Iglesias' first pitch an estimated 404 feet to right for a three-run homer. It was McCutchen's 21st homer this season, and the 24th of his career off Reds pitching, his highest total against any team.

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Iglesias later committed a run-scoring balk, making it 5-0. He left after three innings, having allowed five runs on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

"I felt like it was just a bad inning, like any other pitcher can have," said Iglesias of the third, with catcher Brayan Pena translating. "I felt like I was missing my spots. I wanted to keep it down and make them miss, and they had some good swings."

NOTES: Pittsburgh's Aramis Ramirez started at first base, the first time he played a defensive position other than third base in his 2,174 major league games. ... Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole will skip his next scheduled start in order to limit his workload. Cole, 25, is 16-8 with a 2.54 ERA in 28 starts. The move also lines up Cole to start the National League wild-card game if necessary. ... The Reds reinstated OFs Billy Hamilton and Brennan Boesch from the 15-day disabled list and recalled LHPs Tony Cingrani and Brandon Finnegan, RHP Josh Smith and INF/OF Kristopher Negron from Triple-A Louisville.

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