MLB Insiders: Cincinnati Reds

Paul Maholm

The Pirates open a three-game series in Cincinnati on Friday night. Lefty Paul Maholm will be on the mound for the Bucs. The Reds counter with right-hander Homer Bailey.

Returning home to face the Pittsburgh Pirates might be what the Cincinnati Reds need to help recover from a terrible road trip.

The NL Central-leading Reds look to avoid a season-high sixth straight loss when they open a weekend series with the Pirates on Friday night.

Homer Bailey (3-3, 5.00 ERA) looks to remain perfect against the Pirates when he takes the ball for the series opener.

The right-hander is 5-0 with a 1.57 ERA versus Pittsburgh, compared with his 10-16 record and 5.85 ERA against all other opponents. He struck out six while tossing a four-hitter in a 5-0 win at Pittsburgh on May 12 - his first career complete game.

Bailey has allowed four runs over six innings in each of his last two starts, including a 4-2 loss at St. Louis on Sunday.

Pittsburgh counters with Paul Maholm(notes) (7-14, 5.43), who has enjoyed success versus Cincinnati in his career but has not won since Aug. 3.

The left-hander allowed seven runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 9-2 loss to Washington on Saturday, falling to 0-5 with a 9.20 ERA in his last six starts.

Maholm is 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA in his last 10 starts versus Cincinnati, including 2-0 with a 2.75 ERA in three this season.

In the midst of the playoff race, the last thing the Reds needed was a game like Thursday's.

They blew a 5-0 lead and lost 6-5 to the Rockies, who completed a four-game sweep. But even worse was the way the winning run scored: Colorado pinch runner Chris Nelson broke an eighth-inning tie with a straight steal of home.

The Rockies had runners at first and third with one out when Nelson took off for the plate. Reds reliever Nick Masset wheeled toward second before finally throwing home, and Nelson was easily safe.

"It was a complete mistake on my part," Masset said. "You check the guy at third and go from there. I kind of looked past him. Normally, you get the guy from first who is trying to be sneaky.

"It's embarrassing. It's something that shouldn't happen." It was the first straight steal of home against the Reds since Eric Owens did it for San Diego in 1999.

"I've never lost a game like that," manager Dusty Baker said. "When you're not going good, everything seems to go against you. That's a tough way to lose."

The steal was Nelson's first as a major-leaguer.

"I came set," Masset said. "They said, 'Step off.' My initial reaction was the guy from first was going to second. I stepped off and turned around. By the time I looked at third base, the guy was halfway home. I didn't have a chance to get him."

ROCKIES 6, REDS 5: The Reds scored once in the first inning and four times in the second, capped by Drew Stubbs' two-run homer, to take a 5-0 lead. But Rockies ultimately tied the score on Troy Tulowitzki's eighth-inning homer off Nick Masset, then won it on Chris Nelson's steal of home.

The Cardinals defeated the Braves, cutting the Reds' lead in the NL Central to five games.


--1B Joey Votto collected his 100th RBI on Thursday, becoming the first Cincinnati first baseman to drive in 100 runs since Tony Perez in 1975. Votto is the first Reds player with 30 home runs and 100 RBI since Adam Dunn in 2007.

--SS Orlando Cabrera sat out the past two games, as he was sore after going from first to third in Tuesday's game. He has played just three times in seven games since returning from the disabled list. Cabrera had been out for a month due to a strained left side muscle.

--RF Jay Bruce took batting practice again Thursday, upping the intensity a bit. Bruce hasn't played in nine games since straining a side muscle, but is likely to return to action at some point in the weekend series against Pittsburgh.

--C Ryan Hanigan was not available Thursday, as he was dealing with a flu-like illness. He did not take batting practice.

--RHP Aaron Harang is still listed as Saturday's starter, but the Reds may start RHP Edinson Volquez instead. "You'll know shortly," manager Dusty Baker said. In two starts since returning from the disabled list, Harang has lasted a total of just 6 1/3 inning while allowing seven runs (five earned). He spent two months on the disabled list due to a bad back.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6-12 -- The Reds' final record against the Cardinals this season. Through Sept. 9, Cincinnati was 34-12 against the rest of the NL Central.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Joey is cool. Real cool. That's a high praise from me." -- Reds manager Dusty Baker, on 1B Joey Votto.



--RF Jay Bruce (sore right side) did not play Aug. 31-Sept. 9. He might be able to return during the weekend of Sept. 10-12.

--SS Orlando Cabrera (sore left side) did not play Sept. 8-9. He is day-to-day.

--C Ryan Hanigan (illness) did not play Sept. 9.

--OF Laynce Nix (sprained left ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 26.

--RHP Mike Leake (sore right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 25. The Reds don't consider the injury serious, and they expect that Leake will be fine with rest.

--OF Jim Edmonds (torn right oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 24. He might not return this season.

--RHP Mike Lincoln (strained right side muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list June 1, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 17.

--RHP Jose Arredondo (Tommy John surgery in January 2010) was called up from the minors and placed on the 60-day disabled list July 23.

--RHP Russ Springer (herniated disc) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 5, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 31. He had season-ending surgery Aug. 23. Recommended Stories

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