The Pirates will try to end an eight-game losing streak to the Reds on Friday night when they wrap up the season with the first of three games at Great American Ball Park.
Pittsburgh (61-97) clinched its 17th consecutive losing season earlier this month, but instead of plummeting toward 100 losses, it’s shown some positive signs. The Pirates took three of four from NL West-leading Los Angeles last weekend, then won two of three from Chicago at Wrigley Field this week before Thursday’s finale was canceled by rain in the fourth inning with Pittsburgh up 3-0.
“It’s been a long season,” said pitcher Jeff Karstens(notes), who earned a win in Game 2 of a doubleheader sweep Wednesday. “It’s been a rough season. Just to come and try to finish the season on a strong note would be really big for us going into next year.”
The Pirates need one win in Cincinnati to avoid their first 100-loss season since 2001, but that could be challenging. Pittsburgh has been outscored 56-22 during its skid to the Reds (76-83), and a loss Friday would match its longest losing streak to Cincinnati since May 18-Sept. 2, 1986.
Despite the Reds’ success against the Pirates, they won’t be entering the series on a high note. St. Louis pitcher Chris Carpenter(notes) hit a grand slam and drove in six runs Thursday in Cincinnati’s 13-0 loss, its largest margin of defeat by shutout since falling 14-0 to New York on April 19, 1998.
“They beat us up pretty good,” manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s the first time we’ve been beat up that bad in a while. They had every kind of hit imaginable.”
Justin Lehr(notes) (5-2, 5.46) will try to help the Reds bounce back as he takes the mound looking to improve to 3-0 at home. Lehr’s latest outing came Saturday at Houston, as he gave up four runs over five innings in a 10-4 win.
Lehr allowed four runs in six innings in a 11-5 win over Pittsburgh on Sept. 1, but was also the last Reds pitcher to lose to the Pirates. He surrendered six runs over five innings in a 12-2 defeat at PNC Park on Aug. 22.
Pittsburgh rookie Daniel McCutchen(notes) (0-2, 4.80) will get a final shot at his first major league win, and he looked good in his last start despite leaving without a decision. He limited the Dodgers to two runs over six innings Sunday in the Pirates’ 6-5 victory.
McCutchen made his major league debut in Cincinnati on Aug. 31, allowing three runs in six innings. He didn’t get a decision in the 4-3 loss.