Reds make it three out of four, defeat Cardinals 6-2

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If they hadn’t gotten so bunt happy on Wednesday, the Reds might have made it a clean sweep. As is, they should be pretty pleased to have taken three out of four from the visiting Cardinals with their 6-2 win on Thursday.

Todd Frazier hit two of the Reds’ four homers in support of Tony Cingrani, who struck out seven in his first start back from the DL. Cingrani allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings while improving to 7-3.

The Reds also got homers from Shin-Soo Choo and Jay Bruce. The only bad news on the night was that Brandon Phillips was lost to a quad contusion, though he might be back on Friday.

The Cardinals’ big concern at the end of the night was the continued struggles of All-Star Lance Lynn. He’s 0-5 in his last six starts, giving up 26 earned runs in 34 innings over the span. Tonight, he surrendered three of the four homers, allowing four runs over five innings in all. He’s now 13-10 with a 4.37 ERA for the season.

Thanks to the Reds, the idle Pirates now have a 1 1/2-game lead in the NL Central at 81-58. The Cards are 80-60, with the Reds three games back at 79-62.

Pirates activate Starling Marte

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Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is back in the lineup after the team reinstated him from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday. Marte served the bare minimum on the DL after making a rapid recovery from the right oblique strain that sidelined him several weeks ago.

Prior to landing on the disabled list, the 29-year-old outfielder was off to a strong start. He slashed a robust .308/.366/.503 with six home runs, 10 stolen bases and an .869 OPS in 175 plate appearances with the team. This is the first time he’s dealt with an oblique issue, and the first DL stint he’s served since he suffered a bout of back tightness in 2016. While he has yet to prove he can bounce back to his pre-injury production levels, his quick recovery bodes well for a successful return to major-league play.

In a corresponding move, outfielder Jose Osuna was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. The move came as somewhat of a surprise, given that the Pirates elected to retain top prospect outfielder Austin Meadows rather than the more established Osuna. Meadows was recalled from Triple-A in the wake of Marte’s injury and has only played seven games at the major league level so far, but he’s already made a strong impression: he went 13-for-29 with three home runs, two stolen bases and five RBI since his call-up on May 18.