CINCINNATI (AP) — A guy with “Bob” on the back of his jersey left Pittsburgh’s batters swinging at nothing but air.
Rookie Robert Stephenson fanned a career-high 11 Pirates, and Scott Schebler drove in three runs with a homer and his first triple of the season, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 9-5 victory Friday night.
Stephenson (2-4) stymied Pittsburgh with sharp-breaking pitches in his fifth start and 19th overall appearance, allowing two runs in 5 2/3 innings.
As part of the Players Weekend promotion, Stephenson wore his nickname on the back of his No. 55 jersey — it simply said “Bob.” His nasty slider had the Pirates muttering something else.
“My slider — I got most of my strikeouts on that,” said Stephenson , who threw 107 pitches. “It went really well most of the time. I was happy with the results. I felt like today was one of those days where I felt most confident in my stuff.”
The right-hander fanned the first six batters for a modern Reds record, according to information from the Elias Sports Bureau provided by the team. The major league record is eight by Houston’s Jim Deshaies in 1986 and the Mets’ Jacob deGrom in 2014.
“That might have been as good a slider as I’ve seen in a long time,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We hadn’t seen that pitch from maybe anybody this year as far as the tilt and the depth of the slider. It was an elite slider tonight.”
Pittsburgh’s Josh Bell hit a three-run homer off Tim Adleman in the seventh, one of his four hits.
Schebler had a single, an RBI triple and a two-run homer off Ivan Nova (11-11), who gave up seven runs — matching his season high — in five innings. Adam Duvall added a solo shot, his 30th of the season. Tucker Barnhart drove in two with a sacrifice fly and a single. Nova also let in a run with a bases-loaded wild pitch.
“The fastball kept missing off the plate,” Nova said. “The only thing that was working for me was the curve.”
Pittsburgh has lost 10 of 13, fading from the NL Central race. The Reds are 9-2 against the Pirates this season.
The Pirates activated Francisco Cervelli off the disabled list before the game. The catcher has been limited by soreness in his left hand and wrist. Cervelli walked and scored in the third, but left in the bottom of the inning because of a sore left thigh.
Major league players, managers and coaches can have nicknames on their jerseys this weekend as part of an MLB promotion. Hurdle decided to keep his last name on his. Why? “I’ve never really had a nickname,” he said. “Really. I’ve been ‘That Guy.'”
ANGELS CLAIM RELIEVER
The Angels claimed former Reds reliever Blake Wood off waivers. He was designated for assignment on Wednesday, a day after he gave up five runs in a 13-9 loss to the Cubs.
Joey Votto walked in his final plate appearance. He has reached safely in 29 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the majors. His career high is a 48-game streak that ties Pete Rose’s club record.
The Reds called up OF Phillip Ervin and C Chad Wallach from Triple-A Louisville. They placed C Stuart Turner on the 3-day paternity list and OF Jesse Winker on the 10-day DL with a strained hip. The Pirates optioned C Elias Diaz to Triple-A Indianapolis.
Pirates: Cervelli plans to get with trainers in the offseason to deal with his hand and wrist problems. He had surgery to remove part of a bone in his left hand last year. “I think it’s related to the surgery last year,” he said. “I have scar tissue there. It’s the same pain, but I don’t have the bone anymore, so I must be overusing it.”
Reds: RHP Homer Bailey will skip his scheduled start on Sunday, replaced by RHP Tyler Mahle. Bailey lasted only three innings on Tuesday because of irritation in the back of his shoulder.
Pirates: Gerrit Cole (10-8) is 0-6 in nine career starts against Cincinnati. He started on May 1 at Great American Ball Park and gave up three runs in six innings of the Reds’ 4-3 win. Cole has won his last seven decisions on the road, leaving him 8-4 this season away from PNC Park.
Reds: Luis Castillo (2-6) makes his first career start against the Pirates. In his last five games, he’s 1-2 with a 2.67 ERA.