CINCINNATI — Manager Clint Hurdle needed some time to figure out how to respond to this one.
Brandon Phillips hit a pair of three-run homers and drove in a career-high seven runs on Thursday night, powering the Reds to a 15-5 victory that kept the Pittsburgh Pirates winless in Cincinnati this season.
The Reds opened the season with a three-game sweep of the Pirates at Great American Ball Park. They improved to 4-0 on Thursday night by taking advantage of struggling A.J. Burnett (8-5), sending the Pirates to their most lopsided loss of the season.
Pittsburgh hadn't allowed so many runs since a 15-5 loss to Arizona on Aug. 17, 2013.
The biggest question was what to do with Burnett, whose velocity was down at the start of the game. The 38-year-old has struggled in his last three starts.
"That's what I had, man," Burnett said. "I'm 38. That's what I had. It's sad."
Hurdle sidestepped questions about whether he might give Burnett an extra day of rest before his next start or do something else to try to get him out of his funk.
"I don't know," Hurdle said. "That's why I'm going to wait, sleep on it, talk to him and watch some videotape."
Left-hander David Holmberg (1-0) was called up from Triple-A and allowed two runs and five hits in six innings.
The Pirates made two deals in less than 24 hours to upgrade what was already one of the NL's top bullpens, acquiring Joe Blanton from Kansas City for versatility and Joakim Soria from Detroit as another set-up reliever. They're expecting Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison back from injuries for the playoff push.
Pittsburgh's rotation has been a concern, and Burnett made it worse. He has given up six, five and eight runs in his three starts since the All-Star break.
The Reds piled up 10 hits, two walks and eight runs — seven earned — in 4 1-3 innings off Burnett. They also stole four bases off of him.
"I don't think it's a rough patch, man," he said of the three-game slump. "I had a bad day, that's all."
Burnett gave up a pair of singles and Byrd's homer in the first inning. The Reds sent 10 batters to the plate for six runs in the fifth, with Phillips connecting off reliever Deolis Guerra for a 9-1 lead. First baseman Pedro Alvarez made a throwing error while trying to start a double play, extending the inning.
Phillips connected again off Guerra in the sixth for a 14-2 lead.
DECKER ON THE MOUND
OF Jaff Decker pinch-hit and stayed in the game to pitch the bottom of the eighth. He gave up a double and a single, but no runs.
PHILLIPS' BIG DAY
Phillips became the first player in major league history since 1920 — when the RBI became an official statistic — to have four hits, two homers, seven RBIs and two steals in the same game.
Starling Marte extended his hitting streak to nine games (16 for 36).
Pirates: RF Gregory Polanco was in the starting lineup a day after he left a game early because of a sore left knee. He went 2 for 4.
Reds: Reliever Nate Adcock went on the 15-day DL with a sore pitching elbow.
Pirates: LH Jeff Locke has been charged with two earned runs or less in seven of his nine career starts against the Reds. He's 2-2 with a 3.26 ERA against them.
Reds: Rookie Michael Lorenzen won his only start against Pittsburgh, allowing one run and three hits in six innings of a 7-1 victory at PNC Park on May 5.
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