Cincinnati (56-73) enters with the second-worst home record in the NL at 27-37 while Pittsburgh (53-75) has the league’s worst road record at 18-46. The division rivals have split eight meetings this year with 10 left in 2009.
The Pirates have lost seven straight on the road entering this series after getting swept in three games at Milwaukee over the weekend. Pittsburgh dropped to 19-35 against NL Central opponents - the worst mark in the league.
Impressive rookie Andrew McCutchen(notes) went 5 for 14 with four RBIs in the series to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. The center fielder went 3 for 9 with four walks and five runs to help the Pirates take two of three from the Reds from Aug. 21-23.
“We wanted him to pitch here,” manager John Russell told the Pirates’ official Web site. “With the rotation the way it was, we were going to have to come up with six or seven spot starts because of the innings some of our guys were going to get to and it allows us to cover those starts.”
The 26-year-old right-hander went 13-6 with a 3.47 ERA at Triple-A Indianapolis in 24 starts.
The Reds won’t be entering this doubleheader in ideal fashion after having four relievers log 4 2-3 innings Sunday in a 3-2, 12-inning loss to the Dodgers. It was their third extra-inning game in the last six days.
“That’s the last thing we needed today was 12 innings,” manager Dusty Baker said.
The Reds starter in the opener will be Kip Wells(notes) (0-3, 5.85 ERA), who will again replace Aaron Harang(notes) - out for the year due to an emergency appendectomy. The right-hander made 26 relief appearances before his first 2009 start Wednesday at Milwaukee in which he yielded three runs over five innings in a 4-3, 10-inning victory.
Wells is 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA against Pittsburgh in seven career appearances, including three starts. He pitched for the Pirates from 2002-06.
The left-hander allowed one run over seven innings April 11 to earn a 10-2 win at Cincinnati. He’s also pitched well in his last two outings, going 1-0 with a 1.23 ERA after giving up one run over seven innings Wednesday in a 4-1, 10-inning loss to Philadelphia.
The right-hander is 0-6 with a 10.64 ERA over his last eight starts. He’s 3-2 with a 3.60 ERA in five career outings against the Pirates, going 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in two this year.