Facing the team against which he’s recorded the most career victories, Harang (3-0, 3.86 ERA) will try to pitch the Reds to their first series win at PNC Park since August 2005 when they wrap up a three-game set against the Pirates on Sunday.
Now in his sixth season, Harang has compiled a 50-43 record with Oakland and Cincinnati (11-13). Against the Pirates, though, the right-hander is 9-3, including five wins in Pittsburgh - the most he’s had on the road against an opponent.
Harang struggled, but earned the win in the Reds’ 7-5 home victory over the Pirates (11-11) on April 7, when he gave up five runs and eight hits over 5 2-3 innings.
The right-hander picked up his first road win this season on Tuesday at St. Louis, when he allowed two runs and five hits through 7 2-3 innings of a 10-3 rout. Harang had an NL-high nine road wins in 2006.
Pirates starter Paul Maholm (1-2, 3.96 ERA) will try to build off the best game of his three-year career in the series finale. The left-hander was brilliant in his last start, pitching a three-hitter for his first career complete game in a 3-0 win over Houston on Tuesday.
“It was a lot better than the first three starts,” Maholm told the Pirates’ official Web site. “Everything was working and I got early-count groundballs. That’s the goal whenever I go out there. It worked out and the ninth inning was definitely different territory for me.
“For me it was pretty big to close it out. Tonight the mechanics stayed good the whole time, and I kept the ball down for the most part.”
He lost his season debut on April 6 at Cincinnati after yielding four runs and seven hits in five innings of a 6-1 defeat. In seven career starts versus the Reds, Maholm is 2-2 with a 4.78 ERA, but is 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA against them at home.
After dropping the opener 3-1 on Friday, the Reds roared back with an 8-1 win on Saturday night. Matt Belisle - making only his 12th career start - carried a perfect game into the sixth inning and finished with a five-hitter to snap the Pirates’ five-game winning streak.
The Reds have still dropped eight of their last 11 games in Pittsburgh.
“I wanted to come out real aggressive and make them swing and that’s what they were doing,” Belisle said. “That’s how it went and we got a lot of outs. All I know it was a great flow, a great rhythm, we were rolling and it was a lot of fun.”
Jeff Conine had three hits, including two doubles, and three RBIs for Cincinnati. The Reds, who entered the game with an NL-worst .235 team batting average, finished with 13 hits.
Freddy Sanchez, last year’s NL batting champion when he had a .344 average, halted an 0-for-12 streak with a single in the seventh for Pittsburgh. He’s batting just .220 this season.