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Joey Votto, Adam Duvall help Cincinnati Reds continue mastery over Pittsburgh Pirates

CINCINNATI — Slowly but surely, the Cincinnati Reds are moving from rebuilding mode into winning mode. There is plenty of work to be done, but after taking three of four from the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Reds are back to .500 and looking to build some momentum.

“Winning is fun,” said center fielder Billy Hamilton. “The clubhouse is in a good mood. Getting back to .500 gives us confidence. We just need to move on to the next series and keep rolling.”

On a soggy Thursday afternoon at Great American Ball Park, Joey Votto had a pair of RBI doubles and Adam Duvall added a triple and two RBIs, lifting the Reds to a 4-2 win over the Pirates in the finale of a four-game series.

Hamilton recorded his 200th career stolen base in the fifth inning, and second baseman Arismendy Alcantara collected three hits in a rare start. Alcantara was in the lineup to give shortstop Zack Cozart a much-needed day off. Jose Peraza played short.

“It’s hard to get some of the bench players regular time,” said Reds manager Bryan Price, of Alcantara. “For him to come in there today and do well, it’s a boost.”

Cincinnati (14-14) improved to 6-1 this season against the Pirates. Pittsburgh (12-16) has lost four of five overall.

Right-hander Tim Adleman (1-1) started for Cincinnati and allowed two earned runs with a walk and a strikeout through six innings to earn his first victory of the season.

“Been working on my curveball a lot, that’s been missing the last couple starts,” Adleman said. “I was able to keep them at bay. Against that lineup, six-plus (innings), two earned, I’ll take it.”

Raisel Iglesias earned his fifth save in five attempts.

Pirates starter Ivan Nova was named National League Pitcher of the Month for April with a 1.50 ERA and two complete games. He had more complete games in April than he did walks.

Nova (3-3) didn’t walk a batter on Thursday, but the Reds got plenty of good swings off the 30-year-old right-hander, scoring four runs on 10 hits through six innings. He fanned five.

“They have a really good lineup,” said Nova, who added that his four-seamer and two-seamer were cutting more than normal. “I have to do something different the next time I face them. I thought I handled it well. I ended up going six innings. You want to give the team a chance to win and save the bullpen.”

Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli tested his sore right foot when he singled leading off the second and scored from first on Gift Ngoepe’s double to put them ahead 1-0.

The Reds tied the score in the fourth on Votto’s RBI double and grabbed a 2-1 lead when Duvall singled home Votto. Duvall, however, was thrown out trying for a double by Andrew McCutchen.

Cincinnati extended its lead in the fifth. Hamilton singled, stole second for No. 200 then scored on Votto’s second straight double.

Duvall tripled past left fielder Gregory Polanco. Votto scored, making it 4-1.

“It was a couple of pitches,” said Cervelli. “We were facing some good hitters. Votto is good. Duvall is good. If you don’t make good pitches, you pay. The weather didn’t help, but that was the same for both teams, so that’s no excuse.”

Back-to-back doubles by Josh Bell and Cervelli helped Pittsburgh close the gap to 4-2 in the sixth. Cervelli went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. But they would get no closer against Adleman, who threw 88 pitches.

“He went right after them,” said Price. “He threw strikes, which got him through six innings in under 90 pitches.”

Right-hander Michael Lorenzen pitched two scoreless innings to help Cincinnati maintain its two-run advantage. Iglesias slammed the door in the ninth.

“We just didn’t put many runners on,” Cervelli said. “We were too quick (at the plate). It’s a long season.”

NOTES: The game was delayed 56 minutes by rain. … Pirates C Francisco Cervelli returned after missing four straight starts with right foot soreness. … The Reds optioned LHP Cody Reed to Triple-A Louisville and recalled RHP Austin Brice. … Reds SS Jose Peraza has a career-high eight-game hitting streak. … Reds CF Billy Hamilton reached 200 stolen bases in 424 games, fastest ever for a Reds player and fourth-fastest in major league history. … Cincinnati’s 6-1 start against the Pirates is its best since 1986.

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