Cincinnati (64-85) at Pittsburgh (68-80)

Fair Currently: Pittsburgh, PA
Temp: 72° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Mon Sep 15, 2003
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In his remaining starts this season, Ryan Vogelsong will be trying to improve his chances for a spot in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ rotation next year.

After struggling in his first three appearances, Vogelsong will look for a better outing as the Pirates open a four-game series with the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park.

The right-hander is one of five players the Pirates brought up from Triple-A Nashville on Saturday. He will be part of the regular rotation for the next two weeks so that Pittsburgh can evaluate his pitching.

“It’s safe to say that this young man is definitely in our plans,” Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It’s up to him to step up and solidify a spot. We’re not in the business of just giving jobs away. It’s still important for him to show some of those abilities now.”

Vogelsong went 12-8 with a 4.28 ERA in 26 starts for the Sounds, eventhough he suffered Bell’s Palsy, a virus that causes paralysis in the face.

He has struggled in three outings—including two starts—with the Pirates, going 0-1 with an 11.42 ERA.

“We’re trying to find out (what we have),” McClendon said. “He’s a young pitcher trying to find his way. We need to get him out there a little more consistently and see what happens.”

“I really just want to try to finish up the season strong,” said Vogelsong. “That’s all I was trying to do in Nashville, too. Hopefully, if I can go out there and pitch well.”

Though neither the Reds nor the Pirates are playoff contenders, a sweep by Cincinnati would give it a chance to regain fourth place from the Pittsburgh.

The Pirates, though, have a 4 1/2 game lead on the Reds and would still lead Cincinnati by 1 1/2 games even if they dropped the series. This is the final series between the two teams for the season.

After this series, the Pirates host the Cubs as they continue an 11-game homestand. They then finish the season on the road with three games at the New York Mets and three more at Wrigley Field.

The Reds will visit Philadelphia after the Bucs and then finish the season at home against the Cubs and Montreal Expos.

STANDINGS: Reds - 6th place, 17 GB, NL Central. Pirates - 4th place, 12 1/2 GB, NL Central.

REDS PROBABLE STARTER: Todd Van Poppel (0-0, 4.67 ERA). Poppel allowed one run and six hits over six innings in the Reds 3-2 loss over Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The right-hander has a 2.25 ERA over 16 innings pitched against the Pirates. This will be his second start against them.

PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Vogelsong (0-1, 11.42 ERA). Vogelsong lost his lone career start against Cincinnati, allowing three runs and four hits with three walks and three strike outs. He earned a loss in his one start at home this year when he allowed seven runs and 10 hits over five innings.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Reds - Sean Casey, .289 avg. and 71 RBIs; Adam Dunn, 27 HRs and 70 runs; Dunn, Felipe Lopez and Ryan Freel, 8 SBs. Pirates - Jason Kendall, .325 avg. and 78 runs; Reggie Sanders, 31 HRs, 86 RBIs and 15 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Pirates, 8-4.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Reds - The Reds put RHP Aaron Harang, who suffered a strained lower back, in the rotation for Tuesday’s game. … 1B Casey, who got the first hit in PNC Park history, has a lifetime .346 average (18-for-52) with 11 RBIs there. … Sunday’s win was the Reds’ 29th victory in their final at-bat, most in the majors. Pirates - The Pirates lost their 80th in 148 games and are two losses away from a club-record 11th consecutive losing season. … RF J.J. Davis went 2-for-4 Sunday with two RBIs and hit his first Major League home run, a solo blast to center field. … Because Vogelsong is starting Monday, the other five starters will be pushed back a day, with RHP Josh Fogg and RHP Salomon Torres now slated to start Friday’s doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Reds - 31-43 on the road; Pirates - 34-39 at home.

INJURIES: Reds - SS Barry Larkin (finger), 15-day DL; LF Adam Dunn (thumb), 15-day DL; RHP Jose Acevedo (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Ryan Dempster (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Jimmy Haynes (back), 60-day DL; RHP Luke Prokopec (shoulder), 60-day DL; LHP Mark Watson (kidney), 60-day DL; 3B Brandon Larson (shoulder), 60-day DL; CF Ken Griffey Jr. (ankle), 60-day DL; RF-CF Austin Kearns (shoulder), 60-day DL; CF-LF Reggie Taylor (shoulder), 60-day DL. Pirates - 2B Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL; 2B Pokey Reese (thumb), 60-day DL; RHP Kris Benson (shoulder), 60-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

T. Van Poppel NYM vs. R. Vogelsong SF
3-1 Record 2-2
5.59 ERA 6.55
34 K 15
15 BB 9
1.37 WHIP 1.77