PITTSBURGH (AP) -- It looked like Alfredo Simon's bubble was about to burst.
After being one of the biggest surprises of the young season for the
Cincinnati Reds by ably filling in for injured starting pitcher Mat
Latos, Simon hit a rough patch in the first inning Wednesday night. He
walked three batters in a row to force in a run.
Then, just like that, the right-hander went back to being dominant,
pitching into the seventh inning despite the erratic early control, and
Jay Bruce drove in a run for a fifth consecutive game as the Reds beat
the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2.
"It was cold and I was having a hard time feeling the ball," said
Simon, pitching on a blustery night when the game-time temperature was
50 degrees. "After that first inning, I felt a lot better and pitched
like I've been pitching.
Simon (3-1) worked 6 2-3 innings and allowed two runs on four hits
and five walks while striking out four. Simon has pitched at least six
innings in each of his four starts this season as a replacement for the
injured Mat Latos and has a 1.30 ERA. Simon pitched exclusively in
relief the previous two years.
"He's been terrific," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He's been an
extremely versatile pitcher for us the last two-plus seasons. He's
always been a talented guy, but he's really found himself and made
himself into a very good-looking starting pitcher."
Bruce had two hits and knocked in the final run of the decisive
three-run fifth inning against Charlie Morton (0-3) that gave the Reds a
4-2 lead. Billy Hamilton also had two hits for Cincinnati, which stole
four bases while winning seven of 10 games since a 3-7 start.
"We took advantage of what we could because this is team that might
not give you a lot most nights," Bruce said. "We tried to put some
pressure on the defense."
Jonathan Broxton pitched a scoreless ninth inning, despite allowing two hits, for his third save.
Andrew McCutchen had two hits and homered for the third consecutive
night for the Pirates, who lost for the 10th time in 13 games.
Morton also had control issues, walking five in six innings while
giving up four runs -- three earned -- and four hits with four
"I was yanking my fastball all night," he said. "There were times
were I was trying to go inside on left-handed hitters and missing in the
right-handed batter's box. I was literally missing by 3 feet."
The Reds used their speed to go ahead in a fifth inning that included
two stolen bases and the second throwing error of the game by catcher
NOTES: Pittsburgh C Russell Martin was a late scratch because of a
miscommunication. Martin, who is 0-for-7 against Simon, thought he was
getting Wednesday off while manager Clint Hurdle thought he and Martin
had decided Thursday would be an off day. ... Reds LHP Aroldis Chapman
threw early batting practice, the first time he had faced hitters since
suffering fractures of his eye and nose along with a mild concussion
March 19 when he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Kansas City's
Salvador Perez. Chapman pitched from behind a protective screen and the
next step is for him to throw batting practice without the screen
sometime this weekend when the Reds visit Atlanta. ... Cincinnati INF/OF
Skip Schumaker will report to the Reds' extended spring training camp
on Friday at Goodyear, Ariz., as he continues to rehab the left shoulder
he dislocated while diving for a ball in the outfield during a spring
training game March 21. ... Pittsburgh 1B Travis Ishikawa cleared
waivers and elected free agency after declining an outright assignment
to Triple-A Indianapolis. He was designated for assignment last Friday.
... The Pirates will recall RHP Brandon Cumpton from Indianapolis to
start Thursday against LHP Tony Cingrani (1-2, 3.22) in the finale of
the four-game series.