- Associated Press - Thursday, September 10, 2015

CINCINNATI (AP) - Jung Ho Kang provided a positive and emphatic ending to a road trip that didn’t start so well for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Kang hit Pittsburgh’s first grand slam of the season Wednesday night, and the NL wild-card leaders headed home with a 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

Kang’s tiebreaking shot in the sixth inning allowed the Pirates to widen their edge over Chicago to three games. The wild-card champion gets home-field advantage in the one-game playoff to see which team advances.

“That was a great chance for me, to begin with,” Kang said through a translator. “Ultimately, I got lucky with that swing. I was thinking, ‘How do I put a good swing on it?’”

The Pirates won four of their last six games on the trip after being swept in three games in Milwaukee.

“I think this team showed a lot of resiliency, character, backbone and grit,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

Reds star Joey Votto was tossed by plate umpire Bill Welke while the Reds were trying to rally in the eighth. The 2010 NL MVP complained about not getting time after a called strike two and slammed down his batting helmet, hollering and gesturing as he went nose-to-nose with Welke.

The dispute quickly escalated and Reds teammates intervened to restrain Votto, with first base umpire Laz Diaz helping prevent the big hitter from reaching Welke. Cincinnati manager Bryan Price also was ejected.

J.A. Happ (5-1) struck out a season-high 10. He won his fifth straight start, pitching into the seventh inning and giving up three hits.

“We were trying to change the levels on them,” Happ said. “We were trying to go up and down, in and out.”

Mark Melancon worked the ninth for his major league-leading 44th save.

Keyvius Sampson (2-4) gave up Kang’s slam.

Votto was ejected after the Reds had scored once in the eighth to make it 5-3. There were runners on first and second with one out at the time, and Ramon Cabrera batted for Votto and singled.

It was 1-all when Gregory Polanco led off the Pittsburgh sixth with a single and stole second. Andrew McCutchen drew a one-out walk and Aramis Ramirez loaded the bases with a sharp single.

Kang’s homer was the seventh allowed by Cincinnati this season.

McCutchen had a sacrifice fly in the first.

Todd Frazier hit his 31st homer in the second. It was his sixth since he won the All-Star Home Run Derby. He added a sacrifice fly in the seventh.


After seeing Aramis Ramirez handle the ball just three times in his first career appearance at first base on Tuesday, Hurdle had the longtime third baseman back there on Wednesday. “We’re trying to figure out the best solutions moving forward,” Hurdle said. “We’ll give him more innings and see what develops.” Ramirez had played 2,096 games at third base before Tuesday. He had three more putouts and a throwing error on Wednesday.


Pirates: RHP A.J. Burnett will be reinstated from the disabled list in time to start the opener of a four-game series against Milwaukee at PNC Park. He has been sidelined since July 31 with elbow inflammation.


Pirates: Pittsburgh opens an eight-game home stand with four games against the Brewers, who swept a three-game series against the Pirates in Milwaukee earlier this month. RHP A.J. Burnett (8-5, 3.06) is scheduled to make his first start since July 30, the day before he went on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation.

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