On Thursday afternoon, the Pirates go for their second sweep of the Reds in 2008, as the bottom two teams in the NL Central conclude their three-game set at Great American Ball Park.
Heading for its 16th straight losing season, Pittsburgh (59-79) hit bottom with a 10-game skid entering this series. The Pirates, though, have taken the first two games of this series, following a 3-2 victory Tuesday with a 6-5 win Wednesday night. They now have a chance to sweep the Reds (61-78) for the second time this season, along with a three-game home series April 11-13.
“I wasn’t aware that I was 0-for-16,” LaRoche said. “I’ve been 0-for-16 before, but I had no idea. Both of the hits I got traveled about 100 feet total.”
Runs could be plentiful in a series finale pitting two struggling starters. Among NL hurlers with at least 75 innings pitched this season, the Reds’ Josh Fogg (2-7, 7.29 ERA) owns the highest ERA, while Pittsburgh’s Tom Gorzelanny (6-9, 6.61) has the second-highest.
Fogg, who posted a 39-42 record with the Pirates from 2002-05, is 1-2 with a 10.42 ERA in four starts against his former club, while allowing seven homers in 19 innings.
Overall, the right-hander is 0-5 with a 7.58 ERA in six starts and one relief appearance since July 27. That stretch includes a start at Pittsburgh on Aug. 13, when he yielded four runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings of the Reds’ 5-2 loss.
McLouth is 6-for-11 (.545) with three homers and a double in his career against Fogg.
Fogg snapped a personal string of six outings without a quality start in his last outing, Aug. 27 at Houston, allowing two runs over six innings. Despite the solid effort, though, he wound up on the losing end of a 4-1 score.
Gorzelanny also lost his last start, but pitched well. The left-hander suffered a 3-1 loss to Milwaukee on Friday, but allowed the three runs in seven solid innings and retired 21 of the final 24 batters he faced.
“He threw the ball better than he has all year,” Pirates manager John Russell said. “But at some point, our pitchers have to understand that a good outing is a win. … You can lose a game in the first inning. We have to change the mentality that someone threw well, but lost 4-3, 10-5, or whatever.”
Gorzelanny endured perhaps the worst outing of his career at Cincinnati on May 28. He didn’t make it out of the first inning in Pittsburgh’s 9-1 loss, surrendering six runs, four hits and two walks while retiring only two batters.