PITTSBURGH (AP) — Andrew McCutchen couldn’t help himself. After watching teammate Francisco Cervelli hit a three-run homer that tied the game and chased Cincinnati rookie starter Josh Smith on Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Pirates star center fielder did a spot-on impression of the ever ebullient catcher in the dugout.
Not that Cervelli minded.
“They’re all a bunch of clowns here,” Cervelli said. “They’re always making fun of me, but I don’t care because I’m another clown.”
Minutes later McCutchen offered a slightly more serious trot around the bases, blasting a two-run shot off Pedro Villarreal to cap a fourth-inning outburst as the Pirates ended a three-game losing streak with a 7-6 victory.
Rob Scahill (2-3) earned the win in relief of ineffective starter Jeff Locke. Mark Melancon worked a perfect ninth to pick up his major league-leading 24th save.
Jay Bruce homered and drove in three runs for the Reds. Cincinnati left 12 men on base and went just 4 for 17 with runners in scoring position.
“Usually six (runs) will do it,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “We’re in a spot there where we’re bringing in a new kid and Josh struggled a bit with his command, that’ll certainly get better the more experience he gets because he’s a strike-thrower.”
The 27-year-old Smith went an eventful three-plus innings a few hours after being called up from Triple-A Louisville to fill in for Johnny Cueto, who is skipping a start to give his aching elbow a break. Smith worked around five walks in the first three innings before unraveling in the fourth. Pedro Alvarez smacked an RBI double off the wall to get the Pirates going and Cervelli followed with a shot to the Cincinnati bullpen in center to tie the game.
Smith left but Pittsburgh’s outburst continued. McCutchen’s ninth home run of the season off Villarreal (0-2) capped the Pirates’ biggest inning of the year, as a four-run deficit turned into a 7-4 lead.
The Reds left seven runners on with Locke on the mound. Scahill wasn’t much better but Pittsburgh’s bullpen managed to slog the rest of the way, retiring the final six batters on strikeouts to win their seventh straight home game.
Price said Cueto — who is 18-4 with a 2.13 ERA against the Pirates — could have pitched but the team felt its ace would benefit from a few extra days off to give right elbow a little more time to rest. “He’s not feeling like he has his maximum amount of strength, so we’re just trying to build that up right now,” Price said. “It just makes sense for us right now.” Cueto’s next scheduled start is Friday against the New York Mets.