It had to be the biggest flood since 35 feet of water submerged downtown Pittsburgh in 1907.
On this night, Wednesday in PNC Park, it was a flood of runs by the Cincinnati Reds in the third inning, a season’s best seven, pushing the Reds to an 11-4 victory.
While it was a particularly bad night for Pittsburgh starter and former Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez, it was a brutal night for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, a former Reds outfielder.
In the middle of the seven-run inning, he climbed the steps of the dugout en route to take Volquez out of the game, tripped on the top step and sprawled belly-down on the track in front of the dugout.
Later that inning, after the folks in New York reversed an out call at home plate on a force play, saying catcher Russell Martin illegally blocked home plate (he didn’t), Hurdle came out of the dugout again. He didn’t trip this time, but he was automatically ejected for coming onto the field to talk about a challenge call.
And the way the night was going he probably welcomed the ejection.
The run deluge made it easy for Reds starter Alfredo Simon to become the National League’s first 10-game winner and enabled the Reds to find the .500 level for the first time since they were 11-11.
During the three-game winning streak the Reds have scored 30 runs on 46 hits. Joey Votto had a hit to extend his hitting streak to eight games. Brandon Phillips had two hits for his fourth straight multi-hit game and Billy Hamilton had three hits for his fourth straight multi-hit game.
The Reds led 1-0 on Skip Schumaker’s second-inning sacrifice fly when the third inning began.
Then came the 36-minute top of the third. And it started with one out after Hamilton flied to left. The next nine Reds reached base.
Todd Frazier and Votto singled. Volzquez threw a wild pitch, advancing the runners to second and third. Phillips doubled for two runs (3-0). Jay Bruce walked and Devin Mesoraco was hit by a pitch, filling the bases.
Schumaker singled for a run (4-0). Zack Cozart singled for a run (5-0). Simon grounded to the pitcher and the throw home appeared to force out Mesoraco. The umpires decided to check New York to see if Martin blocked the plate. The ball beat Mesoraco and he slid across the plate unimpeded. But New York said Martin illegally blocked the plate. That gave Simon a single and an RBI (6-0). Hamilton singled for another two runs (8-0)
All that was left was for them to play this one out and Schumaker singled home another run in the fourth, his third RBI of the game, to make it 9-0.
For some reason, even though he had thrown more than 100 pitches, Simon was sent out to pitch the seventh inning and quickly loaded the bases and gave up a run.
Then came a thunderstorm, probably caused by the Reds booming bats. After a delay of an hour and 15 minutes, play resumed. J.J. Hoover took over and a sacrifice fly made it 9-3.
And that made Simon’s line 6 1/3 innings, three runs, five hits, three walks (one intentional) and five strikeouts, a 111-pitch night. Simon’s earned-run average crept over the three mark at 3.05.
The Pirates tossed in the surrender towel in the ninth inning by sending outfielder Travis Snider to the mound. Amazingly, he faced Hoover, who was making his first major-leagueplate appearance, and he walked.
Snider gave up two runs, but he ended the inning by striking out Votto.
The Reds are a true .500 team — 17-17 at home and 18-18 on the road. They’ve won three straight and are 4-and-1 on this trip.