The Reds (23-15) lead the NL in scoring at 5.27 runs per game, but they were held to four total runs in a three-game home sweep at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies. Reds hitters batted just .151 (16-for-106) in the series with 26 strikeouts, and 13 of the hits came in the fifth inning or later.
The Reds have scored one run or less in six of their last 11 games, going 4-7 in that stretch.
“At some point, somebody is going to pay,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said, “because we are going to get some runs here before too long.”
Right-hander Adam Harang (5-1, 4.02 ERA) looks to extend his personal five-game winning streak he started April 8 in an 11-9 win over Pittsburgh, and continue the Reds’ recent strong starting pitching.
In the three losses to the Phillies, Reds starters compiled a 1.61 ERA by allowing just four runs in 22 1-3 innings.
“You’d love to have that every single day we play,” Reds catcher Jason LaRue said of the pitching. “If you do that, obviously, you are going to win a lot of games.”
Harang is 6-2 with a 4.58 ERA against Pittsburgh, including a 4-2 mark with a 5.35 ERA in six starts at PNC Park.
Paul Maholm (1-4, 5.03 ERA) looks to help the Pirates (11-27), who have the worst record in the NL, avoid a three-game losing streak. The left-hander opened the 2006 season with a loss at Cincinnati, giving up five runs, five hits and five walks in six innings of an 8-6 defeat April 7.
Maholm, who is 1-1 with a 3.15 ERA lifetime against the Reds, was reached for a season-high 10 hits and walked four in 5 2-3 innings Thursday at Arizona, but did not receive a decision in Pittsburgh’s 7-4 loss.
Reds shortstop Felipe Lopez is 19-for-38 during a nine-game hitting streak that has raised his average 62 points to .306, but is 1-for-10 lifetime against Maholm. Ryan Freel is 4-for-10 against Maholm but is questionable for this game due to a groin injury.
Despite Harang’s success against Pittsburgh, three Pirates have hit him hard. Shortstop Jack Wilson is .500 (10-for-20), left fielder Jason Bay is .467 (7-for-15) and first baseman Craig Wilson is (.389) 5-for-13 against Harang. Jack Wilson, though, has had just three at-bats since May 7 due to a strained left hamstring.
Pirates manager Jim Tracy has made Nate McLouth his starting center fielder after the team optioned Chris Duffy to Triple-A Indianapolis following Sunday’s 8-2 loss to the Marlins. Duffy was hitting just .194, but McLouth enters the game with only a .231 (18-for-78) batting average.
Cincinnati is 14-7 against NL Central opponents, while Pittsburgh is just 4-17 versus division rivals, including a 1-3 mark against the Reds this season.
“They have the capability of knocking you out with one swing at the ball from a number of different places (in their lineup),” Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. “Their game is fairly complete right now.”