Reds lose on Hoover’s blown save
CINCINNATI (AP) — J.J. Hoover’s debut in his role as the Reds’ new closer went bad on his second pitch.
Starling Marte hit his first career grand slam off Hoover in the eighth inning on Friday night, rallying the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-5 victory over Cincinnati, which lost for the first time.
The Pirates improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2003 by taking advantage of Cincinnati’s unsettled back of the bullpen. Hoover got his first save chance since taking over for Aroldis Chapman, who was traded to the Yankees in the offseason.
“It was just a slider that hung up,” said Hoover (0-1). “I didn’t execute that pitch to the best of my ability and he got it.”
Down 5-2, Pittsburgh loaded the bases in the eighth inning off Ross Ohlendorf, who hit a batter, walked another and gave up an infield hit with two outs. Hoover came on and gave up the Pirates’ first homer of the season on his second pitch.
Hoover was only 1 of 7 in save chances last year when Chapman was unavailable.
“We bring in Hoover to face Marte, who’s 1 for 14 with eight strikeouts (against him), and he throws him a slider he hits for a home run,” manager Bryan Price said. “That was an odd game, an unusual game. There was a lot going on. Balls were flying all over the place. The conditions were not real good. That game could’ve gone either way.”
Ryan Vogelsong (1-0) gave up a pair of runs — one earned — in two innings. Mark Melancon pitched the ninth for his second save in as many chances.
It was a sloppy game on a night with bursts of rain, sleet and snow. The Reds had three errors — two by third baseman Eugenio Suarez — and the Pirates had a pair of them, including a throwing error by catcher Francisco Cervelli that led to a run.
Brandon Phillips was back in Cincinnati’s starting lineup after missing two games with a stomach illness. He drove in a pair of runs with a homer and a sacrifice fly off Francisco Liriano. He also scored on Vogelsong’s wild pitch in the seventh for a 5-2 lead.
Alfredo Simon made his first start since returning to the Reds, who traded him to Detroit for Suarez after the 2014 season. He went five innings and gave up a pair of runs, including Liriano’s RBI double. The left-hander also drove in the first run of the season in the major leagues and has three hits, one more than Joey Votto.
The Reds called up 1B Brandon Allen from Triple-A Louisville. Allen, who signed a minor league deal with the Reds in the offseason, also has played for Arizona, Oakland and Tampa Bay, batting .203 in 116 games overall.
Pirates: Marte, David Freese and John Jaso were hit by pitches, making it 36 Pirate batters plunked by Reds pitchers in the last four seasons. Liriano hit Jay Bruce in the fourth inning, the 37th Reds batter plunked by a Pirate over the same span — the most in the majors.
Reds: RHP Anthony DeSclafani won’t start on Sunday as planned. The Reds want to give him more time to recover from a strained left oblique. RHP Tim Melville will make his major league debut instead. … RHP Jon Moscot — one of four Reds starters on the DL — will pitch for Triple-A Louisville on April 12 and could be activated to start on the 17th in St. Louis. He had shoulder surgery last June.
Pirates: Gerrit Cole makes his first start of the season. He’s 0-4 in six career starts against Cincinnati with a 5.23 ERA. He went 0-3 in four starts against the Reds last year, giving up 13 earned runs in 19 2/3 innings.
Reds: Raisel Iglesias is 1-1 career against the Pirates with a 6.52 ERA, giving up 10 hits and seven runs in 9 2/3 innings.
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