After hitting plenty of homers on a homestand, the Cincinnati Reds could find it difficult to go deep against a pitcher who has been keeping the ball in the stadium of late.
Pittsburgh Pirates starter James McDonald hasn't allowed a homer over his last 33 2-3 innings heading into Monday's opener of a three-game set against the first-place Reds.
Cincinnati (27-20) has won eight of nine, completing a 6-1 homestand in which it homered 17 times with Sunday's 7-5 victory over Colorado. Four Reds homered Sunday in a game that featured a record nine longballs at Great American Ball Park.
McDonald (3-2, 2.51 ERA), however, figures to be stingy since he has yielded one run in five of his last seven outings. That includes a May 5 effort in which he limited the Reds to one run over 6 1-3 innings while striking out seven to earn a 3-2 victory, improving to 2-0 with a 1.90 ERA in four career home starts against them.
McDonald has struck out at least seven in six straight starts to tie Bob Veale's 1965 club record.
Drew Stubbs was the hitting star for the Reds when they took two of three in Pittsburgh (23-24) earlier this month, going 6 for 12 with two homers. The Pirates were outhomered 5-2 in that series.
Pittsburgh had not hit a three-run homer until Pedro Alvarez had one in the first inning Sunday in a 10-4 win over the Cubs. Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones also went deep for the Pirates, seeking their first four-game win streak of 2012.
Several Pirates could face a challenge Monday against Bronson Arroyo (2-2, 3.22). McCutchen is 1 for 16 against him, Rod Barajas is 0 for 11 and Jones is 4 for 16.
The right-hander went 0-2 with a 8.18 ERA in two 2011 starts against Pittsburgh, although he is 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA in his last four outings at PNC Park.
Arroyo yielded one run over 6 2-3 innings Wednesday and did not get a decision in a 2-1 win over Atlanta.
Mat Latos had mixed reactions to his start Sunday against the Rockies, but he and the Reds will take the result.
The right-hander set a career high by giving up five home runs, but those were the only baserunners he allowed, minimizing the damage while the Reds were hitting four homers on their way to a 7-5 win.
"I didn't walk anybody?" said Latos, who never pitched out of a stretch while lasting a season-high 7 1/3 innings. "That makes me feel a little better. As a pitcher, it's a bummer to let a team go yard five times. I was just in attack mode. I was just throwing strikes. It's always good when you throw strikes, but I don't make excuses. If those pitches are down, maybe they don't leave the ballpark. Maybe they're groundouts."
Latos made enough quality pitches to overcome the usually fatal combination of heat -- 90 degrees at game time -- and smallish Great American Ball Park, manager Dusty Baker said.
"If you make quality pitches, you can pitch in a shoebox," Baker said. "If you don't, you can't pitch in Yellowstone."
Latos, as has become typical in his career, struggled in April, going 1-2 record with a 5.97 ERA, but he'll finish May 3-0 with a 3.26 ERA.
"I just think April hates me, to be honest with you," he said.
Cincinnati's 7-5 win over Colorado on Sunday left the Reds 8-0 on Sunday and 13-3 in the final games of series. Eight wins in their past nine games, including 6-1 on the homestand, pushed the Reds to a 1 1/2 game lead over St. Louis. The Reds are seven games over .500 for the first time since May 18, 2011.
RF Jay Bruce's home run Sunday was his first since May 8 at Milwaukee. Bruce was hitless in his last 14 at bats and 1-for-31 before a day off on Friday, and he came back to go 1-for-3 with a double Saturday before homering in three at-bats Sunday.
1B Joey Votto started Sunday's park-record-setting nine-homer outburst with a solo shot in the first inning, his seventh home run in the last 27 games after he hit just one in his first 22 games. Votto has hits in eight of his last 11 at-bats, including four doubles.
RHP Bronson Arroyo faces the team with which he broke into the majors when Cincinnati open a seven-day, six-game road trip Monday in Pittsburgh. Arroyo is 7-6 in his career at PNC Park and 6-6 against the Pirates since joining the Reds before the 2006 season.
In Cincinnati's 7-5 win over Colorado on Sunday, RHP Mat Latos became the first pitcher in Reds history and 11th pitcher in major league history to earn a win despite giving up at least five home runs. He is the first Reds pitcher to give up five homers in a win since RHP Bronson Arroyo in the Reds' 10-5 win at Baltimore last June 25.
By The Numbers:
9—Home runs the Reds and Rockies combined to hit Sunday, a Great American Ball Park record. The previous record was eight. The Reds, Rockies and Braves teamed up to hit 29 home runs on Cincinnati's seven-game homestand, also a record for the 10-year-old facility. The previous record of 28 was set in August 2007.
Quote To Note:
"I felt the bat slipping out of my hands. I looked at the (slow motion) and it looks like my bottom hand is off. At first, I thought it was a short popup, but then I took a couple of steps and said, 'Oh.' It's a pretty interesting way to hit a home run. It was a pretty cool."
—3B Todd Frazier, on his "one-handed" home run, one of four hit by the Reds on Sunday and a Great American Ball Park-record nine combined in Cincinnati's 7-5 win over Colorado.