Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Billy Hamilton's two-run single capped a seven-run third inning and Alfredo Simon won his fourth straight start, as the Cincinnati Reds dominated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 11-4, at PNC Park.
Hamilton and Skip Schumaker each knocked in three runs in the middle test of this three-game series. The Reds, who beat the Pirates for the fifth straight time and moved to 7-2 against their NL Central rival this season, recorded 14 hits to win for the sixth time in seven games.
Simon (10-3) allowed five hits and three runs while recording five strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings.
"We didn't really know what we were going to get," Reds manager Bryan Price said of Simon. "We just knew we had a durable guy that wanted to start and thought he had enough pitches to compete as a starter."
Gregory Polanco continued his hot start to his major league career by knocking in a run, but the Pirates lost for the third straight time since winning four in a row. Jose Tabata drove in two runs.
Edinson Volquez (4-6) was shelled for six hits and eight runs in 2 1/3 frames. Stolmy Pimentel limited the Reds to a run over the next 4 1/3 innings, but the early damage was too much for the Pirates to overcome.
"Fastball command wasn't nailed down from the beginning," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Volquez. "I think he got out of his delivery. Whether he was trying to overthrow, do more than he needed to against a team he played for at one time, I don't know. But the command wasn't there."
With the bullpen taxed, the Pirates used outfielder Travis Snider to pitch the ninth inning. He fanned Joey Votto to cap the frame, but not before giving up a run-scoring double to Hamilton and an RBI groundout to Todd Frazier.
Schumaker's sacrifice fly in the second plated Jay Bruce, and the Reds sent 11 men to the plate in the third. It was during this inning when Pirates manager Hurdle was ejected after arguing an overturned call that resulted in a Cincinnati run.
Frazier scored on a wild pitch and Brandon Phillips followed with an RBI double to left. After Bruce walked and Devin Mesoraco was hit by a pitch, Schumaker's RBI single to right made it 4-0. Zack Cozart then blooped a hit into left for another run.
The controversial play occurred just after Pimentel relieved Volquez. Simon hit a slow roller toward third. Pimentel charged, and from his knees fired a strike to home. Russell Martin was on the plate and recorded the force out and there was no collision as Martin got out of the way during the slide from Mesoraco.
Umpires, though, reviewed the play and determined Martin violated Rule 7.13, which says "the catcher may not block the pathway of a runner attempting to score unless he has possession of the ball.
In this case, if the catcher blocks the runner before he has the ball the umpire may rule the runner safe."
Hurdle argued with second base umpire Jerry Layne, but was ejected. Martin flipped off his mask in disbelief.
Hamilton's two-run single to right-center increased the lead to 8-0.
After the game, Hurdle said he spoke with Joe Torre, MLB's Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, about the call at home.
"We're still working our way finding out what is and what isn't obstruction," Hurdle said.
Schumaker singled in Mesoraco in the fourth, and Rule 7.13 came up again in the fifth inning when Polanco singled to center. Pedro Alvarez, who doubled to start the frame, tried to score on the play, but Hamilton's throw was on target to the plate. Mesoraco tagged out Alvarez on the slide.
Umpires then used replay and determined Mesoraco didn't block the plate, but that Alvarez touched it with his hand before Mesoraco could apply the tag.
Starling Marte and Tabata drove in runs in the seventh, and Tabata's single in the ninth knocked in Polanco, who recorded his first major league double earlier in the inning.
There was a 65-minute rain delay in the bottom of the seventh inning ... Polanco has hit safely in each of his first eight big league games. The only other Pittsburgh player since 1900 to begin his major league career with an eight-game hitting streak was Spencer Adams, who did it in 1923 ... In the previous eight games, Pittsburgh starting pitchers combined to go 4-0 with a 2.16 ERA ... The Reds are a combined 6-0 this season in series versus the Cubs, Brewers and Pirates, but 0-3 against the Cardinals.