Alfredo Simon isn't surprised he is the first National League pitcher to win 10 games this season. Few others saw it coming, though.
The right-hander worked 6 1/3 innings to lead the Cincinnati Reds to an 11-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night.
Simon (10-3) allowed three runs and five hits while walking three and striking out five before being lifted after a 1-hour, 15-minute rain delay. He broke a tie with the Los Angeles Dodgers' Zack Greinke and the St. Louis Cardinals' Adam Wainwright for the NL lead in victories.
At the start of spring training, Simon was ticketed for the bullpen. However, manager Bryan Price gave him a chance to start with right-hander Mat Latos on the disabled list while recovering from elbow and knee injuries.
"I have confidence in myself," Simon said. "I felt I could do a really good job and win a lot of games as a starter. I'm thankful for the opportunity and am trying to make the most of it."
Simon has exceeded Price's expectations.
"I had a lot of confidence that he would do well as a starter and give us a consistent effort, but I don't think anyone expects to take a pitcher out of the bullpen, put him in the rotation, and see him have 10 wins in the middle of June," Price said. "He's obviously done a great job."
Center fielder Billy Hamilton led the Reds' 14-hit attack with three hits and three RBIs.
Left fielder Skip Schumaker had two hits and three RBIs, and second baseman Brandon Phillips and shortstop Zack Cozart added two hits each.
Schumaker hit a sacrifice fly in the second inning to open the scoring, an RBI single during a seven-run third inning and a run-scoring single in the fourth.
Right fielder Gregory Polanco became just the second player in Pirates history to record hits in eight consecutive games to open his major league career, joining Spencer Adams, who did so in 1923. Polanco, who went 2-for-4, drove in the Pirates' first run with a fifth-inning single after they Pittsburgh fell behind 9-0.
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen had his 12-game hitting streak end. He went 0-for-3 before being pulled after six innings with Pittsburgh trailing 9-1 and on its way to a third straight loss.
Right-hander Edinson Volquez (4-6) was tagged for eight runs in 2 2/3 innings after going 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA in his previous five starts.
Reserve outfielder Travis Snider pitched the ninth inning for the Pirates, allowing two runs on a double by Hamilton and groundout by third baseman Todd Frazier. Snider did strike out first baseman Joey Votto.
"A lot of good pitchers haven't struck out Votto," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Snider, he's got that ball. He's going to hang on to it for a while."
The Pirates got all their runs after falling behind 9-0. In addition to Polanco's RBI single, left fielder Starling Marte drove in a run with a groundout in the sixth inning, and pinch hitter Jose Tabata hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh and an RBI single in the ninth.
The Reds broke the game open with the big third inning in which they sent 12 men to the plate.
Phillips doubled home the inning's first run and another scored on a wild pitch by Volquez before Schumaker and Cozart hit consecutive RBI singles to make it 5-0.
The Reds' next run came in controversial fashion and resulted in Hurdle's ejection. Simon hit a nubber to the left of the mound with the bases loaded. Pirates right-hander Stolmy Pimentel, who had just relieved Volquez, made a diving play, then flipped the ball to catcher Russell Martin at home plate for an apparent forceout on catcher Devin Mesoraco.
However, Mesoraco was ruled safe following a 3 minute, 33-second video review in which it was determined Martin illegally blocked home plate.
Hamilton followed with a two-run single that capped the inning and increased Cincinnati's lead to 8-0.
NOTES: Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle reiterated before the game that RHP Jason Grilli would remain the closer despite a recent rough stretch that saw him give up a game-winning home run to Cincinnati 3B Todd Frazier on Tuesday night and retire just one of six batters last Friday at Miami. ... Reds LF Ryan Ludwick was rested despite going 8-for-12 in his last three games. OF Skip Schumaker started in Ludwick's place. ... The three-game series concludes Thursday with Reds RHP Homer Bailey (7-3, 4.68 ERA) facing Pirates LHP Jeff Locke (0-1, 3.98 ERA).