PITTSBURGH — Vince Velasquez struck out 10 in seven innings and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat Hunter Greene and the Cincinnati Reds 2-0 on Sunday for their seventh straight win.
It was the most strikeouts for Velasquez (3-2) since May 10, 2018, when he had 12 for the Phillies against the Giants. He allowed two hits and walked two.
“Sometimes you can be dominant and locate everything in the bull and when it comes to the game, you can be off balance, out of sync,” Velasquez said. “I wasn’t trying to knock it down. I wasn’t trying to find out too much. I just stayed within myself and trusted the things I had.”
The Pirates improved to 16-7 for the franchise’s best start since its last division title in 1992. Pittsburgh allowed six runs in a four-game series against Cincinnati after outscoring the Rockies 33-9 in three games in Colorado.
It’s Pittsburgh’s longest streak since 2018 with 11 straight.
David Bednar struck out two in the ninth for his eighth save, completing a four-hitter.
Pittsburgh jumped ahead in the first against Green (0-1). Ke’Bryan Hayes led off with a double to the gap in right-center. He moved to third on Tucupita Marcano’s single and raced home when Andrew McCutcheon grounded into a double play.
“It was really important. Hunter Greene is good,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “In games like this where the margin for error is going to be so small, you have to make sure you take advantage of every opportunity.”
Green allowed four hits, struck out six and walked two in his best start of the season, but Cincinnati lost its sixth straight game. The Reds scored six runs during the slide.
Pittsburgh grabbed a 2-0 lead when Carlos Santana scored from second on Jack Suwinski’s two-out double against Fernando Cruz in the eighth.
Velasquez ran into trouble with one out in the third, walking Jose Barrero and Luke Meillet. The right-hander then got Jonathan India to fly out to right and forced TJ Friedl to ground to third.
Since being tagged for eight runs in 7 1/3 innings in his first two starts, Velasquez has surrendered three in his last 19 innings.
“In attack mode all the time,” Shelton said of Velasquez. “He was outstanding. That was as good as you could get.’
WHAT A BEGINNING
Pirates starters have gone at least six innings without allowing more than three earned runs in 12 of their last 13 games. The lone exception came Saturday when Rich Hill gave up one run but lasted just five innings in a 2-1 win.
BIG LEAGUE DREAM
The Pirates called up 33-year-old infielder Drew Magee from Double-A Altoona. Outfielder Brian Reynolds was placed on the bereavement list and first baseman Ji Man Choi (left Achilles) was placed on the 60-day disabled list.
Magee is looking for his big league debut. He has played 1,155 games in 13 minor league seasons. He was drafted by the Minnesota Twins on September 18, 2021, but never appeared in a game.
“It’s cool, man. It’s emotional,” Shelton said. “When I said to a few guys yesterday, this is what we’re going to do, the smiles on the players’ faces said it all. Being able to hug him this morning is like being able to do something with one of your children.
Reds: LHP Nick Lodolo (2-1, 4.98 ERA) will start Monday for the first of a three-game home series against the Texas Rangers.
Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (2-1, 2.22 ERA) will take the mound Tuesday to start a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.