MLB Insiders - Cincinnati Reds

Tom Gorzelanny

The Pirates meet the Reds in a four game series at PNC Park. The two teams open up with a doubleheader on Tuesday night.

The Reds have won three straight games over the Pirates (57-72) and are 7-5 against them this season. Cincinnati has taken four consecutive games at Pittsburgh, where it hasn't won five straight in a season since going 6-0 at Three Rivers Stadium in 1986.

Elizardo Ramirez (0-1, 6.35 ERA) tries to extend the Reds' run and pick up his first win of the year when he takes the mound in the first game.

After allowing three runs and no walks in five innings of an 8-4 loss to Milwaukee in his first start Aug. 18, Ramirez regressed his last time out. He gave up five runs, five hits and four walks in 4 1-3 innings against Atlanta on Thursday, although the Reds managed to win 9-7 in 12 innings. The 24-year-old right-hander hasn't won since July 27 of last season.

In his only career start against the Pirates, Ramirez gave up six runs and eight hits in 2 2-3 innings of an 8-4 loss May 26, 2005.

Pittsburgh will counter Ramirez with Tom Gorzelanny (12-7, 3.40), who's 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA in four starts this month. The left-hander allowed two runs and six hits in six innings of an 11-2 win over Colorado on Wednesday, and has given up just three earned runs in 22 innings in his three wins in August.

In his only career start against the Reds, Gorzelanny yielded five runs and eight hits in six innings of an 8-1 defeat at PNC Park on April 28.

In the second game of the doubleheader, Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo (7-13, 4.55) will oppose Pittsburgh's Paul Maholm (10-14, 4.39).

Arroyo is 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA in his last four starts and is 5-4 since the start of July after going 2-9 in the first three months of the season. The right-hander gave up two runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 4-2 victory over the Braves on Wednesday to win his second straight start. He has not won three consecutive starts since a four-game run Sept. 1-15.

In his only start of the season against the Pirates, Arroyo gave up six runs and seven hits in four innings of a 9-5 loss May 26. He's 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA in four career starts against them.

Like Arroyo, Maholm has pitched much better lately, going 5-2 with a 3.66 ERA in his last seven starts. He allowed one run in seven innings of a 5-1 victory over the Rockies on Thursday, giving him a career-best three-start winning streak.

The left-hander has struggled against the Reds this season, though, going 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts. He's 2-3 with a 5.13 ERA in nine career starts against Cincinnati.

David Weathers, by trade, is not a closer. Early in his 14-year major-league career, he was a starter. He evolved quickly into a set-up man, but didn't work much as a closer.

In the past three seasons, due to emergencies, Weathers and his 37-year-old, 237-pound body was tossed into the deep end of closing.

The first two years, he recorded 27 saves (15, 12). This year, pushed into the closer's role from day one, Weathers already has 28 saves in 33 opportunities.

And he has done so well this year that interim manager Pete Mackanin said Sunday, "If I'm back, I would be happy having him as closer next year. With the success he has had here, I don't see how you can't consider him a closer."

Earlier in the year, when the Reds couldn't get anybody out in the eighth inning, Weathers was coming into games before the ninth. Those days are over.

"I don't think I'll go multiple innings with Weathers anymore," said Mackanin. "With the emergence of Jared Burton (for the eighth inning), that helps. It is getting late in the year and Weathers is not a spring chicken. It's tougher to do. It's tough to do if you're 27, let alone 37."

NOTES, QUOTES
--RHP Elizardo Ramirez (0-1, 6.35) and RHP Bronson Arroyo (7-13, 4.55) are scheduled to start Tuesday's doubleheader in Pittsburgh, the team's first doubleheader this year.

--RHP Tom Shearn, the winning pitcher Sunday in his major-league debut, is the eighth Reds player to make his major-league debut this year -- OF Josh Hamilton, RHP Jared Burton, LHP Jon Coutlangus, RHP Brad Salmon, RHP Marcus McBeth, RHP Homer Bailey, LHP Phil Dumatrait.

--2B Brandon Phillips has 25 home runs, two shy of the most ever hit by a Reds second baseman after Hall of Famer Joe Morgan twice hit 27 (1973, 1976).

--CF Josh Hamilton (0-for-5) and SS Jeff Keppinger (0-for-4) were hitless in the 1-2 spots in Sunday's batting order, ending batting streaks of 10 games and 14 games, but the team still beat the Marlins, 9-3.

--LHP Bill Bray made three relief appearances last week and won two games while giving up no runs and two hits in 2 2/3 innings, walking none and striking out one while using only 17 pitches.

BY THE NUMBERS: 37 -- Number of wins against teams with above .500 records, against 35 losses, while the Reds are 20-35 against teams under .500.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "(Center fielder Ken) Griffey constantly jokes about wanting to pitch and play shortstop before his career is over. Honest to goodness, if I had nobody else, oddly the thought occurred to me that I might use him -- and I immediately blotted it out of my mind." -- Manager Pete Mackanin.

ROSTER REPORT
MEDICAL WATCH:
LHP Bobby Livingston (torn labrum) was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 24, retroactive to Aug. 22.

C David Ross (concussion) went on the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 13. He soon began taking batting practice, but may not be ready to return when he's eligible on Aug. 28.

SS Pedro Lopez (broken left cheekbone) went on the disabled list July 26. The injury will not require surgery.

RHP Homer Bailey (strained right groin) went on Class AAA Louisville's seven-day disabled list July 19.

CF Ryan Freel (torn cartilage and meniscus in right knee) went on the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 3. He had surgery Aug. 8, and he is out for the season.

INF Juan Castro (sprained right elbow) went on the disabled list July 7. He may have a partial ligament tear. He was activated July 26, although he was still hurting. He went back on the DL July 31, and he had season-ending Tommy John surgery Aug. 7.

LHP Eric Milton (strained left elbow) went on the disabled list May 9. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery June 15.

INF Jerry Gil (elbow) opened the season on the disabled list and will miss the year recovering from Tommy John surgery.

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