PITTSBURGH (AP) — From the get-go, Billy Hamilton could not be contained Sunday.
Hamilton swiped four bases, got three hits and scored three times, leading the Cincinnati Reds over the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-3.
“My job is to get on base and get into scoring position for these guys behind me to drive me in,” Hamilton said. “That’s my job. I felt like I did my job.”
Hamilton set the tone right away. He drew a leadoff walk from Gerrit Cole, then stole two bags. He finished the day with 43 steals this season, which led the majors until Milwaukee’s Jonathan Villar stole two bags later Sunday to match Hamilton.
Hamilton helped the Reds avoid a series sweep with his bat and legs. The center fielder also made a leaping, backhanded catch that drew applause from the Pittsburgh fans at PNC Park.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle blamed himself for Hamilton’s impact.
“We weren’t where we wanted to be with it. That’s my responsibility,” Hurdle said. “It’s my responsibility to take care of that and everybody has different jobs to do. When we get those kinds of bases stolen, that’s on the manager.”
Later, Eric Fryer hit a ball to deep center that turned around Hamilton twice before he recovered to make the catch.
“Through all the challenges that he’s had offensively, the defense has kept him in the big leagues, to be honest, more so than the stolen bases,” Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Following Hamilton’s leaping grab, winning pitcher Dan Straily emphatically pounded his glove while pointing back to his center fielder.
“I have never seen anything like him,” Straily said. “That ball, it started off over one of his shoulders, kind of knuckled back. It was pretty impressive from where I was standing, very much appreciated. I hung a slider. He hit the ball well. I was very fortunate.
Straily (7-6) gave up two earned runs and three hits in six innings, walking none and striking out four. The Reds have won in each of his past four appearances since Straily lost four consecutive decisions.
Straily got through the first four innings with 41 pitches, 32 for strikes.
Straily didn’t allow a hit until Matt Joyce hit a 442-foot homer in the fifth. Josh Harrison later homered off Straily.
Gerrit Cole (7-7) fell to 0-6 lifetime against the Reds. He left in the sixth, giving up four runs on three hits and three walks.
Cole allowed more than three earned runs for the third time in 17 starts this season.
“You’re not going to be able to stop Hamilton every time, but a walk to start off the game is pretty much a triple within four or five pitches,” Cole said. “That’s not going to get the job done.”
Hamilton’s early steals set up an RBI grounder by and a run-scoring single by Brandon Phillips.
Hamilton doubled in the third, again stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Joey Votto.
Reds rookie pitcher Cody Reed (0-6, 7.30) will try to earn his first major league victory when he starts today at St. Louis.