Pittsburgh (19-27) was swept in a three-game set with St. Louis, losing the finale 5-1 on Thursday. The Pirates scored only eight runs in the series and have lost seven out of nine overall.
The struggling Maholm (2-6, 5.82 ERA) will take the mound against Cincinnati (18-29) in a matchup of the two worst teams in the NL Central division. His worst start of the season was against the Reds when he allowed six runs and seven hits in four innings as the Pirates lost 9-5 on April 29.
The left-hander went 0-2 with a 10.00 ERA in two starts against the Reds in April, and is 2-3 with a 5.51 ERA in eight career starts against them.
Maholm has also lost his last two starts, posting a 7.36 ERA in that span. He gave up five runs and eight hits in five innings as Pittsburgh lost 5-2 to Arizona on Sunday.
The lone bright spot Thursday for Pittsburgh was Jose Bautista’s homer in the sixth inning which ended a 41-inning long ball drought for the team. The Pirates were 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and two outs in the series with the Cardinals.
“If we could get something going offensively and get that big at-bat, it would do wonders for us,” Pittsburgh manager Jim Tracy said. “We can’t get it right now.”
The Pirates will try to beat Reds starter Aaron Harang (5-2, 4.78) for the first time in three tries this season. The right-hander won two starts against Pittsburgh last month despite posting a 6.59 ERA, improving to 10-3 with a 4.50 ERA in 15 starts against the Pirates.
Harang struggled in his last start, allowing five runs and nine hits in five innings as Cincinnati lost 5-3 to Cleveland on Sunday.
Harang will try to help the Reds end a three-game losing streak. They played poorly after winning the opener of a four-game set with Washington, allowing 20 runs in the final three games and losing the finale 4-3 on Thursday night.
Cincinnati, which has lost 17 of 22 games, now has the NL’s worst record.
“Right now, guys are trying so hard to make something happen,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said.
Reds right fielder Ken Griffey Jr. was hitless in four at-bats in Thursday’s loss, but he’s still batting .325 (27-for-83) with nine homers and 20 RBIs in 23 games in May.
Adam Dunn belted his 12th homer of the season Thursday and his first in 41 at-bats dating to May 10 against Houston. Dunn is 6-for-20 (.300) with three homers in six games this season against the Pirates.
Cincinnati has won four of six against Pittsburgh this season.