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Reds struggles at plate continue, lose to Pirates 3-1

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Trevor Williams delivers in the second inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Trevor Williams pitched out of the stretch for most of the day. He also pitched out of trouble all game long.

Williams tossed seven scoreless innings, Jordy Mercer hit his career-best 13th homer and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-1 on Sunday.

Cincinnati got eight of its 10 hits against Williams, but the right-hander wiggled his way out of every jam. He struck out five and walked one in his first win since Aug. 7.

"You make your biggest pitches of the game out of the stretch," he said. "Those are the pitches that hold the most merit. It was a 1-0 ballgame. ... It could have been a 2-1 game, 3-1 game with one swing of the bad. It was just having no panic and using that sinker at the bottom of the zone."

Williams has allowed just two earned runs over 20 innings in his last three outings. It was his 22nd start after beginning the year in the bullpen, and his 4.02 ERA as a starter leads the team.

"The fastball to the four corners is working really well for him," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's moving his fastball around and his slider was effective today. He's using his changeup and his curveball for different looks, which has given him a four-pitch mix that's legit. He's throwing strikes, keeping the ball down when he wants to and elevating when he wants to."

Felipe Rivero worked a rocky ninth for his 17th save. Scooter Gennett scored on second baseman Max Moroff's error, but Jose Peraza bounced into a game-ending forceout at home.

Cincinnati went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base. The last-place Reds managed just one run while dropping the last two games of the weekend series.

The Pirates jumped in front on Mercer's solo drive in the third inning against Sal Romano. Moroff doubled and scored on Jordan Luplow's single in the sixth, and Starling Marte added a solo shot in the seventh.

Romano (4-6) allowed two runs, one earned, and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out two and walked four.

Romano departed after speaking with trainers. He had developed a cut on his throwing hand that made it difficult for him to throw his breaking ball.

"I decided to pull him out of the game," manager Bryan Price said. "I thought today might have been his best stuff. Certainly it was his best velocity. Really good fastball command."

TOUGH BREAK

Pirates infielder Josh Harrison was placed on the 10-day disabled list and will be out for the rest of the season with a broken left hand. Harrison was hit on the hand by Tyler Mahle for his MLB-leading 23rd hit batsmen of the season on Saturday.

The 30-year-old Harrison hit .272 with a career-high 16 homers in 128 games. He also made the All-Star team for the second time.

Before 2017, Harrison had been hit 26 times in six major league season. He is not sure of the cause for the sudden increase.

"I look around the league and I see other guys that crowd the plate more than me," Harrison said. "Why am I the one to get hit? I mean, you've got to throw in, but there might be something to it."

TRAINING ROOM

Reds: LHP Wandy Peralta is "sore" with an apparent right hip injury, according to Price. Peralta recorded just one out in Saturday night's 5-0 loss and was charged with four runs and three hits. ... C Tucker Barnhart was reinstated from paternity leave.

Pirates: RHP George Kontos (right groin strain) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session and could be activated from the disabled list on Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Reds: Homer Bailey (4-7, 7.51 ERA) starts Monday against Milwaukee. The Reds have lost four of Bailey's last five starts.

Pirates: Chad Kuhl (6-10, 4.54 ERA) gets the ball Monday in the opener of a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs. Kuhl is 0-4 with an 11.07 ERA in six career starts against the Cubs.

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