PITTSBURGH (AP) — Last September was a nightmare for Kevin Newman.
This one is going much better.
Newman hit a two-run homer with two out in the ninth inning to give the Pittsburgh Pirates a 6-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.
Jake Elmore set up Newman’s game-ending swing with a leadoff single against Raisel Iglesias (3-12). After Erik González and Melky Cabrera grounded out, Newman hit a drive into the bleachers in left for his 12th homer.
Newman made his big league debut last August and hit .209 in 31 games. But the 2015 first-round pick looks like he belongs right now.
The 26-year-old Newman also hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning against Cincinnati. The shortstop is batting .310 and slugging .438 this season in an impressive turnaround.
“It’s part of the pleasure and joy and rewards that come with coaching,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Deal with adversity, come up with a different plan, make adjustments, match it up, then fight, battle and come out the other side.”
Newman and Bryan Reynolds are angling to become the first pair of qualified rookie teammates to each hit over .300 since 1975.
“I take a lot of pride in this year compared to last year,” Newman said. “I worked really hard in the offseason, I worked really hard in spring training and I feel like I’ve seen the benefits of it throughout the year.”
It was Iglesias’ sixth blown save opportunity. Yacksel Rios (1-0) worked a scoreless inning for his fifth career victory.
Michael Lorenzen put the Reds ahead with an RBI single in the eighth and pitched two scoreless innings after moving to the mound from center field.
“It’s a dream come true,” Lorenzen said. “You can contribute in so many different ways as a position player. Whether it’s making a good play in the outfield or you get one good at-bat out of the four that you get and have.”
It was the first time Lorenzen had pitched after starting a game in the outfield. Primarily a reliever, he also has played left field, pinch-hit and pinch-ran while playing in 103 of Cincinnati’s 160 games.
“Having had him do all this and get through it physically fine gives us a lot more confidence knowing what’s possible with Michael,” Reds manager David Bell said.
The Reds scored two in the first and two in the fifth off Steven Brault. A two-way player in his own right, Brault had a sacrifice bunt and a single to increase his batting average to .341 on the season.
Hurdle said the Pirates have had discussion about allowing Brault to play some outfield in 2020.
“Everything goes in circles,” Brault said. “There used to be two-way players way back in the day and then people decided it wouldn’t work in major league baseball. I what you’re seeing is that it can.”
Reds: INF/OF Derek Dietrich had arthroscopic surgery to clean out his left shoulder and is out for the rest of the season. … INF Freddy Galvis has been shut down after battling the flu and pneumonia. He hasn’t played since Sept. 14.
Pirates: Reynolds missed his second straight game with right hamstring discomfort. 3B Colin Moran missed his third game with hip discomfort. Hurdle did not rule out a return over the weekend for either player.
Reds: RHP Lucas Sims (2-1, 4.39 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season. He has 20 appearances in relief. His last start on Sept. 3 lasted 2 2/3 innings.
Pirates: RHP James Marvel (0-3, 10.22) will make his fourth major league start. He has allowed 12 earned runs over his last two outings.
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