Billy Hamilton is well aware of his struggles at the plate. The Cincinnati Reds centerfielder has tried to stay positive even as his average and his spot in the batting order dropped at an alarming rate Adidas Mark Stone Jersey , trying to focus on being a more complete player until his swing returned.

For the first time in a while – far too long for Hamilton’s liking – everything that makes him so effective was on full display Sunday against Pittsburgh. Hamilton went 3 for 4, stole two bases, scored three times and made a pair of vital defensive plays as the Reds held on for an 8-6 victory on Sunday.

Hamilton started the day with a diving grab on the warning track in right-center to rob Pittsburgh’s Francisco Cervelli of extra bases in the first. He ended it by starting the sequence that cut down the potential game-tying run at the plate in the eighth then trotting home in the ninth after Scott Schebler’s two-run shot gave Cincinnati a little extra breathing room.

”Oh my goodness, that’s the best part (is the hitting),” Hamilton said after boosting his average .197. ”I ain’t worried about the catch. The catch is good, but I’m just worried about what I did at the plate. Especially for me, I’ve been struggling, man. Just to have one of these days, it gives you a bunch of confidence and clears your head a little bit.”

Eugenio Suarez homered in the second straight game and Joey Votto celebrated his 1,500th major league contest by going 2 for 4 with two RBIs for the Reds. Schebler added three RBIs for Cincinnati, which won for just the second time in seven tries at PNC Park this season.

Anthony DeSclafani (2-1) surrendered solo home runs to Colin Moran and Gregory Polanco but otherwise kept the Pirates in check to pick up his second victory since his return after missing the entire 2017 season with right elbow issues. DeSclafani struck out four against three hits and a strikeout in 5 2/3 innings and more than once caught himself marveling at Hamilton.

”It’s unbelievable what he can do out there, man,” DeSclafani said. ”He saves pitchers all the time and he’s just fun to watch out there. It’s like video game stuff. It’s unbelievable.”

Raisel Iglesias allowed an inherited runner to score in the eighth and an RBI-single to Austin Meadows in the ninth but managed to record the final four outs for his 10th save, receiving a bit of help in the process. Iglesias entered with two on and two outs in the eighth and immediately surrendered a double in the gap to Polanco.

Corey Dickerson scored to pull the Pirates within one but Josh Bell was out at home trying to score all the way from first after Hamilton raced to the ball and quickly got it to shortstop Jose Peraza, who fired a strike to home.

The call stood upon review after the Pirates challenged Cincinnati catcher Curt Casali may have illegally blocked the plate.

”I was just thinking head-first slide before he caught it so it was just too late for me to redirect or think anything else at that point Adidas Erik Karlsson Jersey ,” Bell said, who added he thought Casali ”100 percent” gave him a lane to slide.

SLUMP BUSTED?

Like Hamilton, Polanco has been mired in an extended slump. The Pirates moved him to seventh in the lineup and there are signs he’s on the verge of snapping out of it after going 3 for 3, including his ninth home run of the season.

”Right now I am not thinking about anything, just seeing the ball and hit it,” Polanco said after boosting his average to .211. ”Because my swing the last couple days has been good. I’m not thinking now, I’m just swinging now. And when you’re not thinking your swing is good. So you just want to continue to keep seeing the pitches that you want to hit.”

MUSGROVE MUZZLED

Joe Musgrove (2-2) had been impressive in his first four starts for the Pirates after starting the year on the disabled list with right-shoulder problems but the Reds jumped on him the second time through the lineup. Cincinnati scored two runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth and finished 4 for 9 with runners in scoring position after going 0 for 19 in the same situation over the first two games of the series, both losses.

Musgrove was charged with six runs in 4 1/3 innings with a walk and six strikeouts as his ERA jumped from 2.16 to 3.68.

”That’s my first day game in a while,” Musgrove said after temperatures soared into the upper 80s. ”Just trying to get my body alert. It was hot out there. I felt drained.”

UP NEXT

Reds: off Monday then host Detroit in a brief two-game interleague series starting Tuesday when Sal Romano (3-7, 5.67 ERA) faces Matthew Boyd (4-4, 3.23).

Pirates: Welcome Milwaukee to PNC Park for the first time this season when the Brewers come in for a three-game set starting Monday. Trevor Williams (5-4, 4.38 ERA) faces Jhoulys Chacin (6-1, 3.32) in the opener.



Now that he’s no longer an active player, maybe Ichiro Suzuki wants to start swinging for the fences.

How about at next month’s Home Run Derby during All-Star festivities in Washington?

What began as light-hearted banter among Seattle Mariners coaches grew into something that caused a stir in the clubhouse before Wednesday night’s game against the New York Yankees.

”He’s got power and he’s been launching balls into the seats Adidas Matt Duchene Jersey ,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. ”A couple of coaches said the other day, `You know, no one wants to do this Home Run Derby. Why don’t we just send Ichiro? He’d be awesome.”’

The idea gained momentum when Servais mentioned it on a radio show Wednesday, and suddenly a new Twitter hashtag was born – (hash)IchiForDC.

Not officially retired but unlikely to appear in another major league game, the Japanese-born Suzuki shifted to a new role with Seattle as special assistant to the chairman in early May after batting .205 in 15 games this season. The 44-year-old travels with the team and is in uniform for games, helping out with batting practice and other drills while keeping a locker in the clubhouse.

Even though he’s still in game shape, Suzuki didn’t seem to be entertaining the idea of throwing his hat in the ring for the annual power contest.

”I’m not a player (anymore) and just the long, great history that MLB has, I don’t think it would be good for it,” Suzuki said through a translator. ”But I think it’s fun and I’m happy that it’s come up.”

Servais was happy the concept was being discussed, even if it was nothing more than a joke.

”This is really good because he’s been giving me a hard time so I’m really glad to throw this back in his lap,” he said with a grin.

Suzuki, the 2001 AL MVP and Rookie of the Year, found humor in the situation – but promised revenge on Servais.

”It’s the funniest thing he’s said this first half of the year,” Suzuki said. ”I’m definitely going to get him back. I’m going to continue to get him.”

Suzuki has 3 Adidas Wayne Simmonds Jersey ,089 big league hits, but only 117 of those were home runs. Despite reaching double-digit homers in just three of his 18 major league seasons, Suzuki often displayed surprising power in batting practice and it was widely believed he could have clubbed a lot more over the fence if he tried.

But the 10-time All-Star maintained his unorthodox, slashing swing throughout his career, leading the league in hits seven times.

”Right now I’m eating two hamburgers at lunch, and now that this Home Run Derby thing came up I’ll have to up it to three cheeseburgers for lunch, get some more power,” he quipped.

If Suzuki did try his hand against some of the game’s top sluggers in the nation’s capital, however, he knows who he’d want pitching to him.

”Mark Buehrle,” he said, after a long, contemplative pause.

Suzuki was 27 for 66 (.409) against the left-hander, who won 214 games over 16 seasons.