The Reds have been among the more disappointing teams in the majors in 2014, losing their first series of the season and remaining under .500 since the third day of the year. They finally reached the the break-even point again on Wednesday with a win over the Pirates, and they did so with one huge inning.
Eight consecutive Reds reached base via a hit, walk or hit by pitch, and the team scored seven runs in the frame en route to a 11-4 win. Excluding Alfredo Simon, the on-base streak reached nine, starting with Todd Frazier's single and ending with Billy Hamilton's single that drove in Skip Schumaker and Zack Cozart. In between Joey Votto singled, Brandon Phillips doubled, Jay Bruce walked, Devin Mesoraco was hit by a pitch, Schumaker singled, and Cozart singled.
Cincinnati has won six of its last seven and eight of its last 11 to climb back into relevance in the National League playoff race. While they still have a lot of work to do to chase down the Brewers in the NL Central, they're within 2.5 games of the second Wild Card spot.
The team has dealt with injuries to Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Mat Latos, Aroldis Chapman and Devin Mesoraco. Despite that, Wednesday's win brought their run differential on the season to -1. Billy Hamilton struggled mightily to start the season, but he's hitting .340/.379/.566 in June. Brandon Phillips also got off to a slow start, but he slashed .297/.327/.495 in May and is hitting .296/.355/.389 this month. With Johnny Cueto looking like a leading Cy Young candidate and the team fully healthy for the first extended stretch of the season, they look like the contender most expected them to be.