Cincinnati (50-48) at Pittsburgh (46-49)

Cloudy Currently: Pittsburgh, PA, US
Temp: 57° F
  • Game info: 1:35 pm EDT Sun Jul 25, 2004
  • TV: FSPI
Preview | Box Score | Recap

After completing a sweep in his debut with the Reds, rookie Brandon Claussen will try to help Cincinnati avoid one in the finale of a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

Acquired last July from New York in the trade that sent All-Star second baseman Aaron Boone to the Yankees, Claussen finally made his debut with the Reds on Tuesday, posting a 6-2 home win that capped a two-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The 25-year-old left-hander remained in the minors after the trade, getting time to fully recover from reconstructive elbow surgery in 2002. On Tuesday, he gave up two runs, five hits and struck out four over seven innings in his second major league start.

“Nothing fazes him,” catcher Jason LaRue said of Claussen. “I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s very, very similar to Tom Glavine. He’s got a great changeup, and he’s not afraid to go inside.”

The Reds were routed 14-4 on Saturday, losing their fourth in a row and seventh in 10 games since the All-Star break.

Barry Larkin homered and finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs for Cincinnati, but the 40-year-old shortstop strained an abdominal muscle while reaching for a ball early in the game. He is listed as day-to-day.

Cincinnati has lost 18 of 24 on the road, and is 11 1/2 games behind the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals.

“We’ve struggled the past few days but nobody’s panicking,” Reds first baseman Sean Casey said. “We’re going to bounce back and get right back to where we need to be.”

The Pirates have won 19 of their last 25 games, and 13 of 14 at home to move above .500 at PNC Park for the first time since their opening series in 2001.

“This team came together a long time ago … maybe before a lot of you guys noticed,” manager Lloyd McClendon said of his club, which remains in last place in the NL Central but has been one of baseball’s hottest teams for a month.

“It’s nice we’re starting to play like we can.”

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Starting Pitchers

B. Claussen WAS vs. S. Burnett PHI
2-8 Record 5-5
6.14 ERA 5.02
45 K 30
35 BB 28
1.74 WHIP 1.59