CINCINNATI — The Pittsburgh Pirates are hoping A.J. Burnett’s return can help them shake off a weak September start.
Manager Clint Hurdle announced after Monday’s 3-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds that Burnett, sidelined since July 31 with right elbow inflammation, will return to the rotation on Thursday against Milwaukee in the opener of an eight-game homestand.
Sixteen-game winner Gerrit Cole will miss a start to get some extra rest and return to pitch during a doubleheader against the Cubs on Sept. 15, Hurdle said.
The Pirates fell to 2-5 this month after Anthony DeSclafani pitched effectively into the eighth inning and the Reds took advantage of porous Pittsburgh defense to knock off the wild card-leading Pirates in the opener of a three-game series on Monday.
“DeSclafani had a good location fastball and slider,” manager Bryan Price said. “It makes a difference to be able to put two good pitches in different zones. It is something he’s learned and been able to put into practice during the game. He’s incorporating his curveball. He’s fearless and doesn’t give in to anybody.”
DeSclafani (8-10) didn’t allow a Pittsburgh baserunner past second base until the eighth. He didn’t walk a batter in 7 1-3 innings, allowing seven hits with six strikeouts.
“I’m trying to keep them off my fastball,” DeSclafani said. “It is something that I’m learning to do.”
The Pirates broke up the shutout in the eighth on Jaff Decker’s leadoff pinch-hit double and Neil Walker’s one-out single to right. Reliever Jumbo Diaz walked Andrew McCutchen before getting Jung Ho Kang to hit into an inning-ending 3-6-1 double play.
Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for his 29th save and second in two days as the Reds won back-to-back games for the first time since Aug. 12-13.
Chapman hit Sean Rodriguez with a pitch but picked him off first base, a call that was confirmed after a replay review.
Jeff Locke (7-10) lasted two batters into the sixth, allowing four hits and three runs — one earned — with two walks and six strikeouts.
The Pirates tied their season high with four errors, including two by Rodriguez in the first two innings as he made his first start of the season at shortstop.
“If we defend the ball better, who knows what might’ve happened,” Hurdle said.
Rodriguez’s second error opened the door for the Reds to score two unearned runs in their three-run second. Leadoff batter Brandon Phillips reached on a Rodriguez error and scored from second one batter later on Eugenio Suarez’s single.
Adam Duvall walked to load the bases, setting up a Tucker Barnhart sacrifice fly. Suarez also was awarded home when right fielder Gregory Polanco’s throw missed catcher Chris Stewart and Locke, bouncing out of play for a throwing error that gave Cincinnati a 3-0 lead.
Reds CF Billy Hamilton was scheduled to play one more game with Double-A Pensacola on a rehab assignment before rejoining the Reds today. Hamilton has been on the disabled list since Aug. 19 with a sprained right shoulder.
The Reds also announced that they plan to recall today from Triple-A Louisville LHPs Brandon Finnegan and Tony Cingrani, RHP Josh Smith and IF/OF Kris Negron.
Pirates: 1B/OF Travis Ishikawa rejoined the team after a two-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis. Ishikawa was sidelined on Aug. 23 with a low back strain.
Reds: C Devin Mesoraco expects to begin running in two weeks as he continues his comeback from surgery in May to repair a hip impingement. “I’m right on track with where they want me to be,” Mesoraco said. He expects to be ready for spring training.
Pirates: LHP Francisco Liriano (9-7, 3.40) seeks his first career win in his 11th start against Cincinnati. He is 0-5 against the Reds, including a no-decision on opening day against Johnny Cueto.
Reds: Rookie RHP Raisel Iglesias (3-6, 3.81) makes his fourth 2015 start against Pittsburgh. He is 0-1, but the Reds are 2-1 in his previous three appearances.