Nova goes distance for Pirates

PITTSBURGH – Ivan Nova is doing his part to improve baseball’s pace of play.

The right-hander threw a six-hitter to stay unbeaten with Pittsburgh and Jung Ho Kang hit a two-run double to key a three-run first inning as the Pirates defeated Cincinnati, 4-1, on Thursday night, extending the Reds’ losing streak to five games.

Nova (12-6) pitched his second complete game in seven starts since being acquired from the New York Yankees in a trade on Aug. 1. He struck out four, walked none, got 15 of his outs on ground balls and retired the first 12 batters while throwing 94 pitches.

The game lasted 2 hours, 28 minutes during a season in which Commissioner Rob Manfred has fretted about the average time of major league games.

“I think my wife and everybody likes it when I get home early, so I try to make it as quick as possible,” Nova said with a grin.

Nova improved to 5-0 with a 2.53 ERA in seven starts with the Pirates. He has issued just two walks in 46 innings.

“It’s just more of what we’ve been seeing from him,” said Clint Hurdle, who became the sixth manager in Pirates’ history with 500 wins. “It was a really nice mix of pitches and pitching. No walks again. It’s the manual there of how you want to get it done in a quick and efficient way.”

Kang’s double opened the scoring and he came home on a single by Francisco Cervelli as the Pirates took an early 3-0 lead against Dan Straily (11-8).

Kang is 7 for 13 with seven RBIs in four games since being activated from the disabled list on Monday after missing 15 days with a sore left shoulder.

“He’s in a good place,” Hurdle said. “He’s seeing the ball well, looking really good in the field.”

The Pirates, still on the fringe of the National League wild card race, won their second straight following an eight-game losing streak. They began a stretch of 15 consecutive games against teams with losing records.

The Reds dropped to 57-82, clinching their third consecutive losing season and 14th in the last 17 years.

Josh Harrison hit two doubles for the Pirates. David Freese and Cervelli had two hits each.

Zack Cozart singled in the Reds’ lone run in the sixth. Andrew McCutchen countered with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning.

Straily gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked three.

“I wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be – but they had three hits (in the first) inning that were probably a foot away from a glove. Total,” Straily said. “So that’s just kind of the way it happened.”

Trainer’s room

Reds: CF Billy Hamilton (strained oblique) missed his fourth straight game with a strained oblique and stayed behind in Cincinnati to receive treatment. … RHP Homer Bailey (biceps tendinitis) has not started since Aug. 28 but the Reds hold out hope he will be able to return this season.

Pirates: CF Starling Marte (back spasms) missed his third straight game. … RHP A.J. Schugel (sore shoulder) hasn’t pitched since Aug. 30 and there is no timetable for the reliever’s return.

Up next

Reds: RHP Tim Adleman (2-3, 4.02 ERA) will start tonight and the rookie is 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA in his last three starts.

Pirates: LHP Steven Brault (0-2, 3.32), also a rookie, will look for his first win in his fifth career start.