Joe Musgrove allowed three hits in seven efficient innings to outduel Sonny Gray and the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Cincinnati Reds their third straight shutout, 2-0 on Friday night.
Musgrove (1-0) struck out eight and walked one in his first start as Pittsburgh sent Cincinnati its sixth los in a row.
Cincinnati’s scoreless streak reached 28 innings when Felipe Vazquez retired Yaisel Puig to end it, the longest drought by the Reds since they went 30 innings without crossing the plate from Aug. 5-8, 2015. The Reds are hitting just .157 as a team.
Jung Ho Kang broke a scoreless tie in the seventh when he lined a double into the left-field corner, allowing Josh Bell to score from first. Adam Frazier added an RBI double in the eighth off Reds reliever Zach Duke.
Vazquez worked a perfect ninth for his second save.
Gray (0-2) dazzled in his second start for Cincinnati, retiring 16 straight at one point. Two of the three hits he allowed came in the seventh. Gray struck out seven without a walk in 6 2/3 innings.
Cincinnati is off to a 1-6 start, but pitching is not the issue. Gray’s performance dropped the Reds’ starters ERA to 2.16.
Gray arrived in January as part of Cincinnati’s offseason overhaul, an effort by the club to climb back into contention in the NL Central after four straight last-place finishes. His initial start for the Reds was forgettable. He lasted just 2 2/3 innings in a loss to the Pirates, needing 71 pitches to record eight outs.
Things were far different five days later at chilly PNC Park. Mixing speed and location effectively, Gray allowed a single to Francisco Cervelli with two outs in the first but Pittsburgh didn’t get another runner on base until Starling Marte led off the seventh with a single.
Marte advanced to third on a wild pitch and a groundout but was nailed at the plate when he hesitated running home on Bell’s sharp grounder to draw-in second baseman Jose Peraza.
Gray couldn’t take advantage of the reprieve. Kang laced a double to the left-field corner and Bell chugged all the way around to score from first without a throw.
Considering the state of Cincinnati’s offense and Pittsburgh’s starting pitching, it was enough.
Musgrove continued a string of dominant efforts by Pirates starters. The Reds never reached third base, their best chance coming in the first when Joey Votto doubled with one out. Puig followed with a liner to second baseman Adam Frazier. Votto, who ran at the crack of the bat, was easily doubled off to end the inning.
Musgrove cruised from there as the ERA by Pittsburgh’s starters dropped to 1.25.
Pirates: RHP Kyle Crick was placed on the 10-day injured list with tightness in his right triceps. Pittsburgh called up OF Jason Martin to take Crick’s roster spot.
Reds: Tanner Roark (0-1, 6.23 ERA) makes his second start for the Reds on Saturday. Roark, acquired in an offseason trade with Washington, allowed three runs in 4 1/3 innings in a loss to Milwaukee last Monday.
Pirates: Trevor Williams (1-0, 0.00) will look to back up the six shutout innings he tossed last Sunday against Cincinnati when he makes his second start of the season.