Pittsburgh emergency catcher Josh VanMeter struggled in his first appearance behind the plate since he was a teenager, and the Cincinnati Reds snapped a nine-game losing streak by beating the Pirates 9-2 on Saturday in the first game of a doubleheader.

Tyler Stephenson smashed a foul ball into VanMeter’s mask. And in the eighth inning, with the bases loaded, he broke the tie with a double that ignited a seven-run attack.

Puerto Rican Roberto Pérez, the Pirates’ starting catcher, had to be helped off the field due to a left hamstring injury after falling while advancing to second base in the top of the eighth.

Andrew Knapp, the backup, was ejected by umpire Will Little in the sixth for making claims from the dugout.

This left VanMeter as the Pirates’ best option — the second baseman/outfielder had recently recalled that the last time he played catcher he was 14 or 15 years old.

Van Meter, 27, who began his career with Cincinnati in 2019, is in his first season with the Pirates. He switched from second base to catcher to start the eighth, and he did what he could.

For the Pirates, the Venezuelan Diego Castillo 3-1. Puerto Rican Roberto Pérez 3-2 with a run scored.


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