After holding off on clinching their 11th consecutive losing season, the Pittsburgh Pirates hope Kip Wells can further delay it as they complete a four-game series against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park.
The Pirates, who last had a non-losing season in 1992 when they finished 96-66, held off reaching the dubious mark with Wednesday’s 8-5 win.
Pittsburgh has won four of six.
The start of this game was moved up from 7:05 p.m., as Hurricane Isabel is expected to hit the East Coast later in the day.
The move should work in Wells’ favor as the right-hander has a 2.64 ERA in day games, compared to 3.93 in night contests this season. Wells, the Pirates’ ERA leader this season, is 3-1 with a 1.65 ERA over his last four starts.
“His last four outings have been outstanding,” Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He’s really developed into the type of pitcher that we thought he could be. It’s really nice to see.”
Wells evened his record at 8-8 with an 8-4 home victory over Philadelphia on Friday. He allowed one run and four hits over 6 2-3 innings while striking out seven.
“I’m just trying to taking it one game at a time and not try to get too high or too low,” Wells said. “It’s nice to be back at .500, but I have three starts left and I’d like to get two more wins to finish at 10.”
Pittsburgh lost its home run and RBI leader during Wednesday’s victory as Reggie Sanders left in the first inning because of a left oblique strain. He is day-to-day.
Matt Stairs, however, continued his strong hitting against the Reds this season, with a two-run homer. He is batting .436 (17-for-39) with six homers and 14 RBIs against Cincinnati this year.
The Reds lost for the 10th time in 15 games.
Sean Casey went 1-for-3 with a triple for Cincinnati, and is batting .429 (12-for-28) during a seven-game hitting streak.
STANDINGS: Reds - 5th place (tied), 18 GB, NL Central. Pirates - 4th place, 12 1/2 GB, NL Central.
REDS PROBABLE STARTER: John Bale (1-2, 4.67 ERA). The Reds are 1-7 in Bale’s starts this season, including a 9-6 road loss against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. Bale didn’t get the decision, giving up four runs and eight hits over four innings. The left-hander is 0-1 with a 7.50 ERA in one career start against the Pirates. He faced them in a 9-1 home loss on Sept. 8.
PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Wells (8-8, 3.51 ERA). Wells was 0-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts against the Reds this year. In eight career starts against them, he is 0-3 with a 3.92 ERA.
SEASON SERIES: Pirates, 10-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Reds - The Reds have allowed 199 homers this season, breaking a franchise record set two seasons ago. … 1B Casey leads the Reds with three triples. … 2B Freel is 7-for-12 (.583) over his last two games. Pirates - In 14 games against the Reds this season, the Pirates have hit .308 (166-for-539) with 26 home runs. … Since starting the season with a NL-worst 8-21 mark at home, the Bucs have gone 28-19 at PNC Park. … The Pirates were 7-11 against the Reds last season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Reds - 32-45 on the road; Pirates - 36-40 at home.
INJURIES: Reds - INF Barry Larkin (finger), 15-day DL; OF 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; INF Brandon Larson (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Ken Griffey Jr. (ankle), 60-day DL; OF Austin Kearns (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Reggie Taylor (shoulder), 60-day DL. Pirates - LF Sanders (oblique), day-to-day; INF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL; INF Pokey Reese (thumb), 60-day DL; RHP Kris Benson (shoulder), 60-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL.