Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Mike Leake (44) delivers during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, June 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar
June 24, 2015

PITTSBURGH (AP) Reds manager Bryan Price insists his team doesn't look forward to facing Gerrit Cole.

Judging by the way Cincinnati keeps beating the majors' leader in wins, maybe they should.

Marlon Byrd had a two-run homer during Cincinnati's four-run first inning, and the Reds won for the third time this season against Cole and the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-2 on Wednesday night.

''I don't look and say, `Hey, we're getting Gerrit Cole this time through. I sure am happy about that,''' Pryce said. ''There's certain starters in the league where you're going, `I hope that guy ends up pitching against us because we hit him really, really good.' Gerrit Cole is not one of them.''

The Reds have won - and scored at least three runs - in each of the three games this season it has faced Cole (11-3). The Pirates are 11-1 when Cole starts against any other team, and he hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his 12 starts when he hasn't faced Cincinnati.

Mike Leake (5-4), the Reds' starter each time they've beaten Cole, limited the Pirates to two runs and eight hits in seven innings to win his seventh consecutive decision against them.

Ryan Mattheus and Manny Parra combined to work a scoreless eighth, and J.J. Hoover earned his first save in more than two years with a perfect ninth - closer Aroldis Chapman is not with the team because he's on paternity leave.

Tucker Barnhart went 3 for 4 for Cincinnati, which has won five of its past seven.

Cole had allowed just three earned runs over four starts in 27 innings in June. The Reds jumped on him in the top of the first - all after two outs -Wednesday. RBI doubles by Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce were followed by Byrd's two-run homer, his 12th, to center.

Byrd drove in Joey Votto with a two-out single in the fifth that re-established a four-run lead for the Reds.

''What we've done when we played against (Cole) is we've done a nice job of pitching against their lineup and have won some low-scoring games with him on the mound,'' Price said.

Leake stranded two runners in two of his final three innings, including during the seventh. With runners at second and third and two outs and facing Starling Marte - sixth in the NL in RBIs - Leake recorded his fifth strikeout.

He did not walk a batter.

''It was a good combination - getting him those runs early, and him just pounding the zone,'' Byrd said.

HOMECOMING SAVE

Hoover, a Pittsburgh native, had four prior career saves, but none since May 16, 2013. He shrugged off the common notion that the ninth is more difficult to work than any other inning.

''You still have to go out there, get ahead of the hitters and do your job,'' Hoover said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Reds: 2B Brandon Phillips was a late scratch Wednesday because of a jammed left thumb sustained in the previous night's game. Phillips had surgery on the same thumb last season. ... RHP Raisel Iglesias, on the disabled list since June 5 because of a left oblique injury, threw a bullpen session of 30-35 pitches Wednesday.

Pirates: 1B/OF Corey Hart was placed on the disabled list Wednesday. Manager Clint Hurdle said it was because of left shoulder impingement that ''he's been dealing with for a while.''

UP NEXT

Reds: Cincinnati remains in fourth place in the National League Central and at four games under .500. But the Reds have won six of eight games against the 40-31 Pirates and will attempt to make it three series wins against them this season with a victory Thursday.

Pirates: RHP A.J. Burnett (6-3, 2.05) allowed more hits in his most recent outing (14 in 6 2/3 innings) than he had during any of his previous 417 career starts. He will face the Reds for the third time this season, having allowed two earned runs in each of the previous two starts.

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