05/23/10 4:29 PM ET
Reds, Bucs renew division rivalry
By Bailey Stephens / MLB.com
The Reds, fresh off a Battle of Ohio series victory over the Indians, have won six of nine and are still in a tight race at the top of the standings with the Cardinals. The Pirates, on the other hand, have been struggling, but have won three of their past five contests on the road.
Despite their success against the Indians and their strong month of May, the Reds aren't getting complacent.
"We had action on winning this one today," manager Dusty Baker said after Sunday's game. "We wanted to sweep here. It was about winning series. Now we can go home where we have a whole week's worth of night games. Hopefully the guys can come back strong this week."
The Pirates will also be looking to come back strong against the Reds, after dropping two of three to the Braves in the only non-Interleague series of the weekend. One area they'll really need to hone in on is their work at the plate with runners in scoring position. Even in Sunday's finale with the Braves, the Bucs left 11 stranded, adding to the 22 ducks they left on the pond in the first two games.
It's an issue that manager John Russell is well aware of.
"We have guys in the right position, we just have to get those [baserunners] across the plate," he said. "It's easier said than done, but the guys just need to relax a little bit. The flipside of that is that we need somebody to really take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and get the job done."
Pirates: Burres making strides as starter
Left-hander Brian Burres, who will get the ball for the Pirates in the opener, showed some growth in his last outing against the Brewers, holding them to three runs. He took the no-decision, but showed good command in retiring eight of the first 10 batters he faced. "When you throw a fastball for strikes in pretty good spots, you can pitch off it with the other stuff," Burres said. Burres has already faced the Reds this season, appearing on May 11 in relief and pitching a scoreless ninth.
Reds: Harang looks for return to form
It's been a rough start to the season for veteran hurler Aaron Harang, who will start on Monday. The Reds are 2-7 in starts made by Harang. Endurance hasn't been an issue, as the right-hander has lasted at least six innings in each of his past five starts, but the results haven't been there. In his most recent outing against Atlanta, Harang was once again victimized by a tough first inning, as he allowed three runs to score right off the bat. He settled down, allowing just one more run through the next five, but the damage was done. He ended up taking a no-decision as the Reds rallied before eventually falling via walk-off.
A blood blister suffered by the Reds' Johnny Cueto on his right index finger on Saturday will probably not cause him to miss his next scheduled start on Thursday vs. the Pirates. ... After the Braves scored first on Sunday, the Bucs picked up just their third win of their season in that situation, and they are now 3-18 when their opponent scores first.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.