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(Friday, July 19th)
Final Score: Cincinnati 5, Pittsburgh 3
Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) - Brandon Phillips knew he broke the game open.
After digging out a low fastball, Phillips remained in the right-handed batter's box with confidence and swagger, watching it sail into the left-field gap as he tossed his black bat aside and took his time on his way to second base to complete his bases-clearing double in the fifth inning.
Phillips' double capped a four-run rally and guided the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-3 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first of a three-game series.
"When I see guys in scoring position, I'm just 'Wow, I got to do my job.' This is what I'm all about. This is what I've been working my butt off for," said Phillips.
Chris Heisey hit his fifth home run, knocked in a pair of runs and scored twice for the Reds, who won for the third time in four games.
Mike Leake (9-4) earned the win after he gave up three runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings.
All three Pirates runs came on solo home runs in the sixth inning. Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Russell Martin each went deep for Pittsburgh, which lost its second straight game.
Francisco Liriano (9-4) was tagged for five runs on five hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings as he saw his four-start winning streak come to a screeching halt against the Reds, who are responsible for three of his four losses this season.
"Nine days off the mound and him trying to get back into a rhythm, so ... the counts were deeper than he wanted, he threw more pitchers than he wanted to," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "But as he's always done, he battled and battled."
Heisey gave Cincinnati a quick 1-0 lead when he launched a slider into the left-field seats in the first inning.
He later helped the Reds in their four-run fifth. Leake reached base on a fielder's choice and moved to third on Shin-Soo Choo's base hit. Heisey bounced a ground ball to the left side, off the glove of third baseman Pedro Alvarez, for an infield single and to plate Leake.
Cincinnati continued the rally. Joey Votto worked a walk and Liriano's day was over. Justin Wilson entered the game and Phillips' greeted him with a bases- clearing double to give the Reds a 5-0 lead.
Pittsburgh gave Cincinnati a scare in the sixth inning. Marte led off with a home run to right field. Two batters later, McCutchen crushed a curveball out to left-center field. After Alvarez flew out, Russell Martin hit another solo home run to left field, cutting the Reds' lead to two.
The Pirates put two men on in the seventh inning, but McCutchen grounded into a fielder's choice and Manny Parra came in the game and struck out Alvarez to end the threat.
Sam LeCure got the final two outs in the eighth after relieving Parra and Aroldis Chapman pitched around a two-out single to record his 22nd save.
Before the game, Cincinnati recalled infielder Neftali Soto from Triple-A Louisville ... Phillips is 9-for-11 with 21 RBI with the bases loaded this season ... Liriano is 0-3 against the Reds this year with a 4.47 earned run average (eight earned runs in 16 1/3 innings). He is 9-1 with a 1.96 ERA against everyone else (14 earned runs in 64 2/3 innings) ... Votto, who went 1-for-2 with two walks, has reached base safely in 30 straight games ... Choo went 1-for-4 and matched a career best with a 13-game hitting streak ... Leake is 4-1 with a 2.57 ERA (14 earned runs in 49 innings) in his last seven starts.
07/20 01:54:30 ET