CINCINNATI (AP) — Jake Fraley came off the bench to hit a three-run homer, Kevin Newman had a two-run shot against his former team and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2.
Jonathan India added a solo home run and Nick Lodolo overcame a challenging first inning as Cincinnati snapped an eight-losing streak to Pittsburgh that dated to last season, when both teams lost 100 games.
Fraley’s second career pinch-hit homer in the sixth off right-hander Chase De Jong reached the visitors’ bullpen down the right-field line and broke open a one-run game.
“To be able to come off the bench and pick up runs like that and help the team is huge,” Fraley said.
Lodolo (1-0) needed 109 pitches to navigate five innings. The Pirates reached the second-year lefty for seven hits and two runs. He finished with nine strikeouts and two walks.
Lodolo retired seven of the last eight batters he faced. Ian Gibaut, Buck Farmer and Reiver Sanmartin combined to retire the final 12 Pirates batters.
“Everybody who came in was able to shut them down and hold it right there,” Reds manager David Bell said. “That was big.”
Lodolo’s relatively easy fourth inning was the key, according to Bell.
“If he doesn’t have an easy fourth, he might not go out for the fifth,” he said.
Rich Hill (0-1), who turned 43 in March, began his 19th season with his 12th major league team. He allowed three runs and three hits with seven strikeouts and two walks in five innings. Hill joined Pittsburgh as a free agent in January.
After the Pirates took a 1-0 lead during Lodolo’s 35-pitch first inning, India hit Hill’s fourth pitch for his eighth career leadoff home run. The 2021 NL Rookie of Year is one shy of Reds Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and two short of matching the club record set by Kal Daniels.
“I felt good even after 35 pitches,” Lodolo said. “I wasn’t missing by much. I felt like I was in every at-bat.”
“It wasn’t the type of 35-pitch inning you normally see,” Bell said. “His stuff was good.”
Newman, acquired in a November trade, followed later in the first with a two-run drive that caromed off the façade of the second deck in left field for a 3-1 lead.
“After a tough opening-day loss, we needed that,” India said. “We needed to get going. It felt good.”
Hill was one of the last pitchers Bell faced as a player. Bell went 1 for 3 with a single for Milwaukee against the Cubs on Sept. 27, 2006.
Oneil Cruz loaded the bases for the Pirates in the first inning with a chopper that barely reached the grass in front of the plate and had an exit velocity of 47.8 mph.
Pirates: Former Reds RHP Robert Stephenson (right elbow inflammation) threw 15 pitches in one inning on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis in its season opener Thursday.
Reds: 1B Joey Votto (left shoulder, biceps surgery last August) was scheduled to play first base in Game 1 and be the designated hitter in Game 2 of Triple-A Louisville’s season-opening doubleheader at Nashville caused by a rainout of Thursday’s scheduled opener. Votto is on a rehab assignment.
The only timer violation in the game led to Pittsburgh first baseman Carlos Santana leading off the fifth with an automatic strike against him.
RHP Vince Velasquez is scheduled to make his Pirates in the series finale Sunday against Graham Ashcraft.