The Short Version: Robert Stephenson pitched six innings of one-hit, shutout ball, and the Reds played longball in the sixth inning — with home runs by Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett — to secure a series sweep over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Final R H E
Pittsburgh Pirates (68-82) 2 3 0
Cincinnati Reds (66-84) 5 4 0
W: Stephenson (5-5) L: Cole (11-11) S: Lorenzen (2)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score

The Good
–Another nice start from Robert Stephenson as he continues to improve over the course of this, his rookie season. Today, Stephenson threw six shutout innings, surrendering just one hit. He struck out eight and walked three.

–Despite that strong pitching, Stephenson was locked in a scoreless duel with Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole until the Reds hit in the bottom of the six. Jesse Winker — hitting lead off again today — drew a walk to begin the frame. Eugenio Suarez followed with a home run to center field, his 26th of the season. That was all the Reds would really need, but they weren’t finished.

The next hitter, Joey Votto, worked another walk off Cole, then Scooter Gennett hit a home run of his own — his 25th. That was all for Cole, but the Reds struck again in the inning, thanks to a Tucker Barnhart triple (!) that scored Zach Vincej (who had been hit by a pitch with two outs).

–Winker reached base twice today, with a single and a walk. Votto walked twice.

–The bullpen was largely effective after Stephenson left the stage. Deck McGuire pitched a scoreless inning, striking out two, and Michael Lorenzen pitched a perfect ninth to pick up his 2nd save of the season.

The Bad
–Luke Farrell gave up a walk and a two-run homer in his lone inning of work.

Not-So-Random Thoughts
–Sweep! That’s seven straight wins at Great American Ball Park for the ol’ Redlegs. Cincinnati hasn’t lost a game at home during the month of September.

–That’s Cincinnati’s second three-game sweep of the Pirates this season. Overall, the Reds won the season series against Pittsburgh, 13 games to 6.

–This start by Stephenson was really nice to see, especially coming on the heels of Sal Romano’s gorgeous start yesterday (eight shutout innings, six strikeouts, no walks). The bugaboo is always strikeouts with Stephenson, and he did walk three, but he continues to show signs that he’s getting it, for lack of a better term.

It’s really exciting to watch these young pitchers develop. It’s kinda what we’ve been asking for all season, right?

–Love this batting line from Vincej so far in his career: .000/.429/.000.

As Lance noted, the Reds have won 25 of their last 46 (25-21, dating back to the last game of July). Before this stretch, the Reds had won just 25 out of their previous 74 games!

The run has been largely led by rookie pitchers — Luis Castillo, Romano, Stephenson, Tyler Mahle. So, if you’re looking for something to be optimistic about, there’s that. At this point, Cincinnati is just three wins away from bettering last season’s win total. There are twelve games remaining in the season.

Even better (he said sarcastically), the Reds are now just two games behind Pittsburgh for fourth place in the National League Central division. The race to escape the cellar is ON.