PITTSBURGH (AP) — Gregory Polanco changed his offseason workout routine after hamstring injuries sent him to the disabled list three times last year. The results are showing.
Polanco hit a two-run homer during a four-run fifth inning that sent the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Cincinnati Reds 5-2 on Thursday night.
Polanco broke a 1-all tie when he drove a ball into the shrubbery in center field off Homer Bailey (0-2). Polanco also had a tying sacrifice fly in the third inning, helping the Pirates win for the fifth time in six games.
“I feel in great shape and my legs are strong,” Polanco said. “I’m in a good spot right now and I just want to stay like that. Being healthy makes a big difference.”
Polanco has a team-high nine RBIs. He drove in just 27 runs in 108 games last season and did not have his ninth RBI until his 32nd game on May 12.
“Polanco is seeing the ball and he’s getting a very athletic swing off,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “That’s what’s most pleasing to me right now, seeing him getting that swing off.”
Steven Brault (2-0) pitched one-run ball over five innings in his first start this season. The left-hander allowed three hits, struck out four and walked four. He took over the rotation spot left by Joe Musgrove, who has a right shoulder strain.
Brault also got the win in the opener last Friday when he worked three scoreless innings in relief at Detroit.
“It’s a little weird because obviously four walks are bad,” Brault said. “The good thing is that after I’d issue a walk, I’d be able to buckle in and solve the problem.”
Bailey allowed five runs — four earned — and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings with three walks and two strikeouts. He is 3-10 with a 4.75 ERA in 22 starts in March and April during his 12-year career.
Josh Harrison started the Pirates’ fifth by drawing a leadoff walk, and Polanco followed with his second home run. Corey Dickerson hit an RBI triple with one out and scored when shortstop Jose Peraza fumbled Francisco Cervelli’s two-out grounder for an error.
“I thought early, we did pretty good,” Bailey said. “We were pitch efficient. I think the biggest pitch was the one to Polanco that he hit out. So, that was kind of the turnaround right there.”
The Reds’ Adam Duvall hit a solo home run, his second, in the eighth off George Kontos.
Cincinnati, which has lost four of five, took a 1-0 lead in the second. Scooter Gennett came home on the second of Brault’s two wild pitches in the inning.
“Outside of the Duvall homer, there wasn’t a ton of hard contact,” Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said.
Dickerson also doubled, and he and Harrison each had two of Pittsburgh’s nine hits.
SIEGRIST SAYS SEE YA
LHP Kevin Siegrist, who was in spring training with the Pirates on a non-roster basis, refused an assignment to Triple-A Indianapolis and became a free agent.
Reds: RF Scott Shebler (bruised right elbow) was not in the lineup after being hit by a pitch in Cincinnati’s previous game Monday but is expected to play Friday. … LHP Brandon Finnegan (strained left biceps) is scheduled to make a rehab start Monday for Triple-A Louisville then be activated from the disabled list if all goes well. … RHP Kevin Shackelford (strained forearm) is close to throwing a bullpen session.
Pirates: SS Jordy Mercer (jammed right pinkie finger) returned after sitting out Wednesday’s loss to Minnesota and went 1 for 2 with a double and two walks.
Reds RHP Luis Castillo (0-1, 10.80 ERA) will face RHP Trevor Williams (1-0, 0.00) on Friday night in the second game of the four-game series. Castillo allowed six runs in five innings in a loss to Washington last Saturday in his first start of the season. Williams pitched six hitless innings last Sunday to win at Detroit.