Cincinnati (50-46) at Pittsburgh (44-49)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Pittsburgh, PA
Temp: 73° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Fri Jul 23, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Oliver Perez is quickly becoming the Pittsburgh Pirates’ most dominant starter.

Perez hopes to continue his impressive pitching as the Pirates begin a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park.

The left-hander’s rapid maturation is one of several factors that has made starter Kris Benson expendable for Pittsburgh. Perez, acquired from San Diego along with Jason Bay in the trade sent outfielder Brian Giles to the Padres, has shown signs of being a possible ace for the Pirates in the near future.

Perez ranks sixth in the NL with 122 strikeouts and has held opponents to a .206 batting average. He has pitched better than his 5-4 record indicates.

Perez is 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA over his last four starts to lower his ERA to 3.14 ERA, and credits his recent success to better location of his pitches.

“I’ve had much better control, and I’ve been able to get out of trouble,” he said.

Perez has limited opponents to three runs or less in 10 of his last 11 starts.

The Pirates hope to give the young starter some run support on Friday.

Pittsburgh was held to one run and eight hits in a 2-1 loss in 10 innings to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, dropping to 5-2 since the All-Star break.

The Reds have stumbled since the break, going 3-5. Cincinnati managed only four hits against Greg Maddux in a 13-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.

The only hitter to give Maddux much trouble was catcher Javier Valentin, who entered the game batting .182 but homered twice—solo shots in the third and fifth innings.

Outfielder Wily Mo Pena went 1-for-3 to raise his batting average to .296. Pena is batting .425 (17-for-40) with seven home runs over the last 11 games.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Acevedo Bal vs. O. PĂ©rez Hou
5-12 Record 12-10
5.94 ERA 2.98
117 K 239
45 BB 81
1.48 WHIP 1.15