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Ross' five RBI fuel Reds' victory over Pirates

CINCINNATI (AP) -- David Ross was happy to be back home.

The Cincinnati catcher snapped a 0-for-13 slump by going 3-for-4
with a home run and career-high five RBI as the Reds blew a
six-run lead before pulling away for a 14-7 win over the Pittsburgh
Pirates on Saturday night.

Ross went hitless on Cincinnati's six-game road trip after
beating the St. Louis Cardinals 8-7 with a two-run walkoff home run
on Aug. 9. He snapped out of it against Pittsburgh with a
run-scoring single in a six-run first, his 15th homer of the season
in the third and a three-run double in the Reds' seven-run seventh.

"I didn't sniff a hit on the road trip," said Ross, who shares
Cincinnati's catching duties with Jason LaRue and Javier Valentin.
"It's tough when you don't play every day. When you lose your
rhythm, it's hard to get back on track. I came back and studied a
lot of film. You can do that at home."

"David Ross has done a pretty good job all year," manager
Jerry Narron said. "He struggled a little bit on the road, but he
came through big for us tonight."

Brandon Phillips also homered as the Reds sent 10 batters to the
plate in two separate innings and maintained their one-game lead in
the National League wild card race. They also cut St. Louis' lead
in the Central Division to 2½ games. The Cardinals lost to the Cubs
5-4 in 10 innings at Chicago Saturday afternoon.

The Pirates overcame a six-run Cincinnati first inning to tie
the score at 7 in the seventh inning. The Reds responded with seven
runs in the bottom of the inning off relievers Salomon Torres (3-6)
and Matt Capps. Ross had a three-run double and Phillips a two-run
homer.

Edwin Encarnacion and Rich Aurilia each hit two-run doubles in
Cincinnati's six-run first inning. Ross and Phillips added
run-scoring singles as Cincinnati set a season-high for
first-inning runs.

"For some reason, that first inning again," said Maholm, who
has allowed 28 first-inning runs, 27 earned, in 25 starts this
season, including 16 in his last eight starts. Maholm's
first-inning ERA now is 9.72. "After I got through that, I wanted
to go four or five innings and save the bullpen."

The last time the Reds scored as many as six runs in the first
inning was on Sept. 24, 2004, when they scored seven in the first
of a 14-8 win at Pittsburgh.

The Reds scored six or more runs in two innings of the same game
for the first time since exactly one year ago, when they scored six
in the third and 10 in the fourth of a 17-3 win over Arizona.

"When you come up with a big lead like that, you have mixed
feelings," said Ross, who hit his solo homer in the third. "In a
way, you're so happy, but in a way, when they get a couple of
runners on base, you're thinking, 'This would be the worst game to
blow."

The Pirates scored three runs in the third on Xavier Nady's
two-run double and Ronny Paulino's RBI single. They cut the Reds
lead to 7-6 and knocked Eric Milton out of the game with no one out
in the fifth on Jason Bay's three-run homer, his 26th homer of the
season.

Bay tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the seventh off Ryan
Franklin (3-6), who got the win.

Milton allowed nine hits and six runs in four innings.

"I'm not down in the dumps because of the effort," Pittsburgh
manager Jim Tracy said. "We kept chipping away and had some
professional at bats. Maholm stepped up and bowed his neck. That
gave us a chance to put together some professional at bats -- and we
did."

Maholm gave up seven runs and 10 hits in five innings. He walked
one and struck out seven.
^Notes:@ Pirates 3B Freddy Sanchez, the league's leading hitter at
.355, went 3-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 11 games
(21-for-41, .512). ... Pirates RHP Britt Reames celebrated his 33rd
birthday Saturday.