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Pirates Earn First Five-Game Winning Streak Since ’19 With 4-2 Win Over Reds

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Jack Suwinski, Pittsburgh Pirates

PITTSBURGH —  For the first time since 2019, the Pittsburgh Pirates have won five games in a row as Mark Mathias, Connor Joe and Mitch Killer carried the Bucs to a 4-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park on Friday.

After a balk was called on Reds starter Graham Ashcraft in the second inning, the Pirates (14-7) had two runners in scoring position for Mathias. Mathias came through with a two-run single up the middle to put the Pirates ahead 2-0.

Mathias was again at the plate when the Pirates reclaimed the lead in the sixth inning. With Connor Joe standing on third base, Mathias bounced one to shortstop Jose Barrero, who botched it. Mathias reached first base safely and Joe came in to score to put the Pirates up 3-2.

Joe continued to stay hot at the plate. He finished the game 3 for 3 with a double, a walk and two runs scored. He’s now hitting .377 on the young season. 

Carlos Santana padded the Pirates lead in the bottom of the seventh with a two-out double into the gap in left-center, plating Andrew McCutchen.

Tyler Stephenson hit a long single off the Clemente Wall in the top of the fifth for the Reds’ first hit off of Keller (2-0). It was in the fifth inning that the Reds were finally able to get to Keller with a pair of runs. Nick Senzel had an opposite-field, RBI-single to get the Reds (7-13) on the board. Jose Barrero tied the game one batter later with a sacrifice fly to center. 

That was the only damage the Reds did against Keller, who made it 11 consecutive quality starts for Pirates’ starters after allowing the two runs in six innings. The right-hander allowed four hits, walked one and struck out five. 60 of his 89 pitches went for strikes.

In relief of Keller, Robert Stephenson, Colin Holderman and David Bednar preserved the lead with Bednar picking up his seventh save of the season.

At 14-7, this is the best start to a season for the Pirates since 1992.

The Pirates have a chance to clinch a series win and extend their winning streak to six games with a victory on Saturday night. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill (1-2, 5.57 ERA) will get the ball for Pittsburgh. Luis Cessa (0-2, 13.50 ERA) will be the starter for the Reds. First pitch: 6:35.

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