The team the Pittsburgh Pirates brought to the opening of Great American Ball Park isn’t the one that returns to Cincinnati this week.
The rebuilding Pirates play the first of two games against the Reds, who are enduring another dismal homestand in their new stadium.
Pittsburgh was shut out on the field by the Houston Astros on Tuesday night, but made plenty of noise off the diamond with a pair of trades.
The Pirates dealt reliever Scott Sauerbeck to Boston earlier in the day, then sent Kenny Lofton and Aramis Ramirez to the Chicago Cubs at night. Ramirez was leading Pittsburgh in RBIs, while Lofton topped the team in runs and stolen bases.
The Pirates traded All-Star reliever Mike Williams on Sunday, and still could move key players like Brian Giles or Jason Kendall before the July 31 trading deadline in an effort to cut costs and build for the future as they head toward another losing season.
“I’m not surprised after what’s happened,” Ramirez said. “A lot more guys are going to leave. I’m just glad I’m going to a good team.”
It seemed there would be reason for hope in Pittsburgh this year after the Pirates opened 4-0, highlighted by a season-opening sweep of the Reds in the first series at Great American Ball Park.
But they couldn’t sustain that strong play, and the players knew deals were imminent as the team fell further out of the race in the weak NL Central.
“We knew this was going to happen if we couldn’t stay in the race. It was conceded a couple of weeks ago, so you have to live with it and finish strong,” Giles said. “We showed no signs of really turning the corner. Our general manager felt it was time to try to get guys in here who were younger. It looks like that’s what we’re doing.”
Cincinnati also appears to be out of the division race, and its poor play at home is one of the main reasons.
The Reds fell to 1-5 on their eight-game homestand with Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. They have dropped 18 of their last 25 at their new stadium and are just 22-27 overall at home.
STANDINGS: Pirates - 4th place, 9 1/2 GB, NL Central. Reds - 5th place, 10 1/2 GB, NL Central.
PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Jeff Suppan (9-7, 3.67 ERA). Suppan has won four straight starts for the second time this season. The right-hander has pitched at least six innings in 16 of his 19 starts and has pitched into the seventh in each of his last seven outings. He did not receive a decision in his only previous career start against Cincinnati.
REDS PROBABLE STARTER: Ryan Dempster (3-7, 6.60 ERA). Dempster yielded five runs, including a career high-tying three homers, in six innings of a 5-3 loss to Houston last Friday. The right-hander is 2-4 with a 6.59 ERA in 11 games, including 10 starts, against Pittsburgh.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Pirates - Kendall, .308 avg. and 56 runs; Reggie Sanders, 16 HRs; Giles, 48 RBIs; Sanders and Pokey Reese, 6 SBs. Reds - Jose Guillen, .340 avg.; Adam Dunn, 25 HRs and 58 runs; Adam Boone, 61 RBIs and 13 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Pirates, 4-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Pirates - Suppan needs one win to tie his career high, set in 1999 and matched in each of the next two seasons. … C Kendall was hitless Tuesday, snapping his hitting streak at 23 games, which had been the longest current streak in the majors. … Pittsburgh hasn’t won a road series since taking two of three at Tampa Bay from June 13-15. Reds - Cincinnati committed two more errors Tuesday, running its major league-leading total to 94. … The Reds’ rotation is last in the NL with a 6.29 ERA and 47 losses. … Dempster is just 1-3 with an 8.42 ERA in six starts against Pittsburgh since coming to Cincinnati.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Pirates - 22-24 on the road; Reds - 22-27 at home.
INJURIES: Pirates - INF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL; INF Reese (thumb), 60-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL. Reds - OF Austin Kearns (shoulder), 15-day DL; OF Wily Mo Pena (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Scott Sullivan (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Gabe White (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Luke Prokopec (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Ken Griffey Jr. (ankle), 60-day DL.