CINCINNATI — Scott Rolen's three-run homer started an early splurge off right-hander Charlie Morton — the major leagues' leader in losses — and the Cincinnati Reds rolled to their best record since 2006 by beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-2 on Thursday night.
The NL Central leaders have won 21 of their last 30 games, moving a season-high eight over .500 at 28-20. They haven't been that well off since '06, also the last time they were in first place so deep into a season.
Cincinnati batted around in each of the first two innings for seven runs off Morton (1-9), who had his second-shortest start of the season.
Johnny Cueto (5-1) won his fourth straight start, showing no trouble with a blister that forced him out of his last game. The right-hander gave up three hits and struck out a season-high nine during six shutout innings.
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The Reds took three of four from the Pirates, who had no chance after Morton had another meltdown. Pittsburgh lost 4-0 on Wednesday night — the eighth time the Pirates were blanked this season, most in the majors — and their scoreless-innings streak reached 15 a day later. Aki Iwamura ended it with a pinch-hit, RBI single in the seventh.
Rolen's three-run homer snapped a personal 0-for-11 skid and extended one of the best power streaks in club history. Cincinnati has homered in its last 16 games.