PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pablo Reyes plays baseball with an unabashed joy, something in short supply these days for the Pittsburgh Pirates. For one brief moment Friday night, the 5-foot-8 utility player provided a dash of it for his beleaguered team, capping a ninth-inning rally with a game-ending single to lift the Pirates to a 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
The Pirates won for just the ninth time in 39 games since the All-Star break by chipping away at Reds closer Raisel Iglesias (2-9). Pittsburgh put together three straight singles to start the ninth, the last a flare to shallow center by Adam Frazier that scored pinch-runner Erik Gonzalez.
A sacrifice bunt by Jacob Stallings moved pinch-running pitcher Joe Musgrove to third and Reyes sent a drive to the gap in left-center to give Pittsburgh its eighth straight home victory over the Reds.
The 25-year-old Reyes — a career .218 hitter — bolted around the edge of the diamond with his teammates in pursuit. Skipping. Leaping. Laughing. For a team in a freefall, it was a welcome reprieve.
"When do you good swings, anything can happen," Reyes said.
Felipe Vázquez (4-1) picked up the win by pitching a scoreless top of the ninth as the Pirates improved to 5-67 when trailing after eight innings.
"I think this is our ninth win in the second half," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "The vibe, the energy and the effort's there, but those don't always translate to wins. They haven't for us. Tonight, we stay in a game, we keep hunting, and we keep playing. It paid off for us tonight."
Iglesias recorded just one out while blowing his fourth save attempt in 30 opportunities.
"It looked like Raisel was making good pitches," Cincinnati manager David Bell said. "He just did what he needed to do there and the Pirates put it in play. That's the way the game goes. It's disappointing, but he's been there before. He'll bounce back."
A DOZEN DINGERS FOR AQUINO
Aristides Aquino's hot start for Cincinnati shows no signs of slowing down. The 24-year-old rookie hit his 12th homer of the month and an RBI double in the eighth while going 3 for 4 to boost his batting average to .338.
Aquino's drive to the first row of seats in center off Mitch Keller leading off the second gave him a dozen homers in 22 games, the fastest player to reach that total in major league history.
Aquino's 12 homers since making his 2019 debut on Aug. 1 are two short of the club record for most home runs in a month, trailing the 14 Hall of Famer Frank Robinson hit in August 1962 and Greg Vaughn matched in September 1999. Aquino, however, was more pleased with the double he laced to left off Keone Kela in the eighth that put the Reds in front 2-1.
"I think those are the moments that make a good player a really, really good player," Aquino said. "That's one of those moments where it's a clutch at-bat and I really enjoy those at-bats."
Keller, Pittsburgh's top pitching prospect, put together the best start of his young career. The 23-year-old struck out nine in six-plus innings. He threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of the 24 batters he faced and relied heavily on a slider that kept the Reds off balance.
He also received some serious help from Michael Feliz, who entered after the Reds put two runners on to start the seventh and promptly struck out the next three batters to preserve a tie.
"He came out and just peppering fastballs and his slider was devastating," Keller said. "Three punchouts in a row, you can't ask for anything more."
Both teams insisted they were ready to move on from their ugly on-field brawl in Cincinnati last month, one that resulted in eight total suspensions spread among six players as well as both managers.
Bell stressed his club didn't "have time" to let the feud continue to fester.
For a night anyway, Bell was right. When Keller went up and in to Aquino in the sixth, the 6-foot-4 Cincinnati slugger simply leaned back to get out of the way and play continued without incident.
Reds: Placed OF Jesse Winker on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Monday with a cervical strain in his neck. Bell said Winker had been "going in the wrong direction" recently. ... C Curt Casali (sprained knee) could be activated from the injured list this weekend. Casali hasn't played since July 15. ... Bell said 1B Joey Votto (strained lower back) returning when he's eligible to come off the injured list Sunday is "not completely out of the question," but stressed "there is no exact date" for when Votto will be ready to play.
Reds: Alex Wood (1-2, 5.92 ERA) makes his sixth start of the season Saturday. Wood has allowed 12 runs in 13 innings over his previous three starts.
Pirates: Trevor Williams (5-6, 5.65 ERA) is just 3-5 with an 8.20 ERA in 10 starts since returning from the injured list on June 19.