PITTSBURGH — The Cincinnati Reds picked the wrong time to run into a hot pitcher.
Ivan Nova pitched 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.
Nova improved to 5-0 with a 2.53 ERA in seven starts with the Pirates. He has issued just two walks in 46 2/3 innings.
“He didn’t give us much to get excited about,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “He did a really nice job, even during the few times we had runners on base. He gets so many ground balls, he’s always a pitch away from getting out of a tough situation with a double play. When we did have some guys on, he was just able to manage the game extremely well.”
Nova finished off the Reds in 2 hours, 28 minutes.
“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.
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 Monday after missing 15 days with a sore left shoulder.
That was all the runs Straily gave up during a five-inning stint. He allowed seven hits, 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.”
The Reds dropped to 57-82, clinching their third consecutive losing season and 14th in the last 17 years.
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.
Clint Hurdle, in his sixth season, became the sixth manager in Pirates’ history to win 500 games.
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.
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.
PIRATES SHUFFLE ROTATION
RHP Drew Hutchison will make his Pirates’ debut Saturday night when he starts in place of RHP Chad Kuhl against the Reds. The Pirates acquired Hutchison from the Toronto Blue Jays in a trade Aug. 1 and he was 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in seven games, including six starts, for Triple-A Indianapolis before being recalled Tuesday
From 2012-15, Hutchison had a 30-21 record with a 4.92 ERA in 76 games, 73 of which were starts, over four seasons with the Blue Jays.
Kuhl and fellow rookie RHP Jameson Taillon are having their next turns in the starting rotation skipped as the Pirates attempt to manage their innings pitched. Taillon has worked 149 1/3 innings between the major and minor leagues and Kuhl’s total is 134 1/3.
Reds: RHP Tim Adleman (2-3, 4.02 ERA) will start Friday night 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.