Jay Bruce knocked in four runs and Chris Heisey went 3-for-5 with two RBI and three runs scored as the Cincinnati Reds powered their way to an 11-3 rout over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the rubber match of a key three-game series at PNC Park.
Todd Frazier added a two-run homer to a 16-hit attack that enabled Cincinnati to pull even with the Pirates atop the NL wild card standings. Billy Hamilton tied a career-high with three hits, scored twice and stole two bases in the win, the Reds' fifth in six games.
"We needed two out of three no matter what, and however we could do it, so it was a good win for us," said Cincinnati starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo.
Boosted by a five-run first inning, Arroyo (14-11) picked up the victory after allowing three runs over five frames of work.
Counterpart Jeff Locke (10-7) was pulled after just one inning, during which he was tagged for five runs on three hits and issued a pair of walks.
Neil Walker and Travis Snider each had solo homers for Pittsburgh, dealt a fifth defeat in its last seven outings, with Walker ending 2-for-2.
Both the Reds and Pirates are two games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the NL Central.
Locke quickly got himself into trouble, walking Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips after a Heisey single as Cincinnati loaded the bases with one out in the top of the first. Bruce then sent all three runners home with a double into the left-center field gap, and Frazier followed with his 18th homer of the season to give the Reds an almost-instant 5-0 advantage.
"Too many mistakes," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Locke's performance. "Walking [the] three and four [hitters], and next two batters, balls just left in the middle of the plate barreled."
Cincinnati padded the margin against Jeanmar Gomez in the second. Hamilton led off with a single and raced home on Heisey's double to left, with Phillips increasing the lead to 7-0 via a sacrifice fly two batters later.
Walker got Pittsburgh on the board by hammering an Arroyo changeup into the seats in right to begin the bottom of the third, and pinch-hitter Snider launched a fastball over the wall in straightaway center to open the Pirates' half of the fifth to cut the deficit to 7-2.
The Pirates closed the gap further later in the inning, as Arroyo hit Jose Tabata with a pitch after Snider's homer and Walker doubled to put two in scoring position with none out. The veteran hurler minimized the damage, though, getting MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen to pop up and inducing a sac fly from Justin Morneau that brought home Tabata.
"They played, at least the first four or five innings, very tough and put them[selves] in position where they could have gotten back in the ballgame " said Arroyo of the Pirates. "Luckily, I got out of that fifth inning with a couple of big pop-ups."
Pittsburgh didn't get a hit against relievers Alfredo Simon, Manny Parra and Logan Ondrusek the rest of the way, however, and the Reds put the game out of reach with a three-run eighth.
Hamilton doubled off Vin Mazzaro and scored on Heisey's third hit of the day for an 8-3 lead, with Votto driving in Heisey and later coming around on a Bruce single.
Zack Cozart doubled for Cincinnati in the ninth and crossed the plate on Derrick Robinson's single to account for the final margin.
Votto, Bruce, Phillips and Cozart each had two hits for the Reds, who went 9- for-15 with runners in scoring position ... Locke entered the game 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA in three starts against Cincinnati this season ... Arroyo had gone 0-2 in four starts since his last victory, which came against Milwaukee on Aug. 24 ... Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo sat out a second straight day with an injured right hand.