CINCINNATTI — The Pirates did not have a sharp day on the mound Sunday, and will enter the All-Star break on a down note after a 6-3 loss to the division rival Cincinnati Reds.
The Reds scored three runs off starter Francisco Liriano in his first game back off the disabled list, another run off reliever Stolmy Pimentel and two off Vance Worley on their way to a 2-1 series win at Great American Ball Park.
The Pirates plated single runs in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings off Reds ace Johnny Cueto, but never mounted a real sustained threat.
Andrew McCutchen tripled to right field and scored on a groundout in the fourth, and Josh Harrison drove in Pedro Alvarez with a fifth inning single after a 56-minute rain delay that cut the deficit to 3-2. Neil Walker homered in the sixth to cut it to 4-3.
The club's best chance to knock Cueto around was after Walker's homer in the sixth when Russell Martin reached second on an error, but was thrown out heading to third with Ike Davis batting.
Alvarez singled with two outs, and Jordy Mercer reached on an error, but Gaby Sanchez popped up to left field to end the threat.
Liriano gave up a three-run home run in the second inning, walked six, struck out four, threw one wild pitch and went just four innings.
Pimentel took over in the fifth, and gave up a run on two walks and a double and the Pirates trailed 4-2 after five innings.
The Reds' Devin Mesoraco had doubled in Chris Heisey, then moved to third on a sacrifice fly but was tagged out by catcher Russell Martin on a squeeze attempt later in the inning.
Worley gave up a two-run homer to Todd Frazier as the Reds took a 6-3 lead in the sixth that stuck.