Baseball players love to explain bad days by saying, “That’s baseball.” It’s a phrase as old as the game itself, and it’s one Cincinnati Reds pitcher Matt Harvey used Sunday after a 9-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park.
Harvey (5-6, 5.21) surrendered a career-high four home runs and delivered his worst performance in 13 starts with the Reds, allowing eight earned runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings. He had not allowed a home run in his last six starts.
“That’s baseball,” Harvey said. “You’re not going to go the whole season without giving up a home run, and unfortunately, as good as I was (before this start), part of baseball is running into hot bats. When you don’t execute pitches and you leave stuff over the middle of the plate, a hot team’s going to make you pay and they did that today.”
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The Pirates (51-49) swept the three-game series and extended their season-best winning streak to nine games. It’s their first sweep in Cincinnati since September 2013.
The Reds (43-56) had hopes of catching the Pirates in the National League Central Division, cutting the deficit to 1½ games on July 6. They now sit 15 games back of the division-leading Chicago Cubs and 7½ games back of the Pirates.
The Reds, who started the season 0-3 and were outscored 21-12 by the Washington Nationals, fell to 0-3 since the all-star break. The Pirates outscored them 27-5 in these three games.
“It’s disappointing, but it’s a long season,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “In 162 games, you’re going to hit some times when you’re just aren’t hitting on all cylinders. Other times, everybody’s going full guns, driving in runs, pitching great and you put together nice streaks. This is kind of the ebb and flow of it. You just like to minimize it as much as possible on the down side.”
Despite Harvey’s performance, he remains the Red most likely to be traded by the July 31 deadline. He didn’t want to speculate about the chances he joins another team this season. He remains focused on pitching for the Reds. He plans to flush this start from his memory and start fresh Monday.
“Today was a bad one, but I’m healthy, and I’ve thrown the ball pretty well,” Harvey said. “Today was just a rough one. There’s work to be done to make sure this doesn’t happen again: going over video, doing all the work in between. I’m looking forward to my next start.”
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For the third straight day, the Reds offense didn’t help its struggling pitching staff. The Reds trailed 9-0 until Phillip Ervin drove in Jesse Winker and Adam Duvall with a single in the seventh.
The Pirates limited the Reds to six hits for the second straight game. In the series, the Reds hit one home run. They were held to two or fewer runs in three straight games for the first time since April.
“We just had the four days off and didn’t really come out firing on all cylinders offensively,” Riggleman said. “It’s a combination of us not swinging the bats like we’re capable and them pitching well.”
Cardinals at Reds, 7:10 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410