Pirates’ VanMeter struggles as catcher, Reds end 9-game skid

CINCINNATI — Pittsburgh emergency catcher Josh VanMeter had a rough time in his first try behind the plate since he was a teenager, and the Cincinnati Reds took advantage to end a nine-game losing streak, beating the Pirates 9-2 in the opener of a doubleheader.

Tyler Stephenson fouled a ball hard off VanMeter’s mask, then hit a tiebreaking, bases-loaded double in the eighth inning that fueled a seven-run burst.

Pirates starting catcher Roberto Pérez was helped off the field with a left hamstring injury after falling while rounding second base in the top of the eighth inning.

Backup catcher Andrew Knapp was ejected by plate umpire Will Little in the bottom of the sixth inning for chirping from the dugout.