CINCINNATI (AP)—Ramon Ortiz sat on the bench in the middle of the eighth and waited for interim manager Jerry Narron to walk over and ask the question: Did he have enough left for one more inning?
“I said, `Oh, yeah!”’ Ortiz recalled.
The right-hander went back out and finished his first complete game in two years, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 6-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night in a matchup of the NL Central’s two bottom teams.
Rich Aurilia’s bases-loaded double in the fourth inning sparked a five-run rally, giving Ortiz (9-10) all he needed. Ortiz gave up eight hits and struck out six in his ninth career complete game and the second by a Cincinnati pitcher this season.
Narron had the bullpen ready, but never seriously considered taking him out.
“He was pitching so well, we were going with him,” Narron said. “He wanted a complete game bad.”
Ortiz was part of the Reds’ offseason overhaul, expected to give them enough starting pitching to contend. Instead, he strained his groin during spring training and took a long time to get back into form.
“Early in the year, we know what happened,” Ortiz said. “I didn’t feel too good. I was scared about the groin. I feel good now, and everything is working. I don’t feel anything in the leg.”
The Reds won for only the third time in their last 11 games. Ortiz became the first Reds starter to get a victory since Aug. 28.
Last-place Pittsburgh lost for the 12th time in 15 games, unable to do anything right for very long. The Pirates were coming off their first back-to-back wins in three weeks, looking for their first three-game winning streak since July 23-26.
A poor performance by Kip Wells (7-16) halted the modest streak. Wells walked a season-high six in 3 2-3 innings and threw two wild pitches, one of them letting in a run.
“It’s a skill position,” interim manager Pete Mackanin said. “It’s not easy to throw the ball where you want to. On given days, he can do it. On other days, he can’t.”
The teams took turns hitting sacrifice flies at the outset, getting the least out of their biggest threats—the type of thing that scuttled their seasons and got their managers fired. The Reds got rid of Dave Miley in June, and the Pirates dumped Lloyd McClendon on Tuesday.
Daryle Ward hit sacrifice flies in the first inning and again in the third, when the Pirates loaded the bases with one out but managed only one run. Cincinnati got its first three batters aboard in the first, but had to settle for Sean Casey’s sacrifice fly.
Wells, who gets the lowest support in the majors at three runs per game, couldn’t blame the Pirates’ offense this time. The right-hander self-destructed in the fourth inning with a 2-1 lead.
“I was hoping to get out of that last inning without having it blow up,” Wells said. “With all of the walks, it’s like a time bomb about to go off.”
Wells walked three during the nine-batter inning and threw two wild pitches, the first letting in the tying run. With the bases loaded, Aurilia doubled off the wall in left for a 5-2 lead, ending Wells’ outing. Adam Dunn completed the rally with an RBI double off Brian Meadows, putting the Reds ahead 6-2.
Aurilia knew Wells was having problems with his control and waited for him to make a mistake.
“In that situation with the bases loaded, I’m going to see a strike,” Aurilia said. “He threw me a couple of good breaking balls for the first two strikes, then left one over the plate.”
Wells has lost eight of his last nine decisions. The right-hander’s biggest problems this season have come against division opponents—he’s 0-7 in his last 12 starts against the NL Central, going without a win since April 27.
Wells has received three or fewer runs while he was on the mound in 21 of his last 22 starts. … Pirates RHP Josh Fogg will throw in the bullpen on Sunday, testing his right hand. Fogg left his start on Thursday when Arizona’s Chad Tracy singled off his hand in the sixth inning. If Fogg feels fine on Sunday, he’ll make his next scheduled start. … Rookie LHP Zach Duke ran before the game Saturday, testing his sprained left ankle. He reported no problems. Duke hurt the ankle while running the bases on Aug. 23. He’s eligible to come off the disabled list. … Reds OF Ken Griffey Jr. was out of the lineup for the fifth straight game because of a sprained foot. He’s day to day.