The lowly Cincinnati Reds will look to win back-to-back games for the first time in three weeks as they continue their three-game set against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday in a matchup of the two worst teams in the NL Central.
The last-place Reds (53-67) defeated the Pirates 5-1 Tuesday in their first game without slugger Adam Dunn, who was traded to NL West-leading Arizona on Monday for minor league pitcher Dallas Buck and two players to be named.Brandon Phillips and Javier Valentin sparked the Reds' offense Tuesday, as each hit a home run to help Cincinnati snap a season-high six-game losing streak."We need to keep pushing," Valentin told the team's official Web site. "I know what happened (with Dunn's trade), but we need to continue to play hard and don't think about anything. Hopefully this win will wake everybody up. We can start a nice winning streak and get confidence."Cincinnati has only three victories in its last 17 games, and has not won back-to-back games since July 22 and 23.The Reds' pitching has been the biggest reason for their slump, as they were outscored 46-18 during their losing streak, and have a league-worst 5.86 team ERA since July 24.Wednesday's scheduled starter Josh Fogg (2-4, 7.98 ERA) has been in the thick of Cincinnati's pitching woes.After allowing two runs in six innings of a 7-2 win over the New York Mets on July 19, Fogg is 0-2 with a 11.08 ERA in his last three starts. On Thursday, the right-hander yielded six runs and eight hits in four-plus innings of a 7-4 loss to Houston.Fogg, who pitched for the Pirates from 2002-05, has been inconsistent against his former team since leaving Pittsburgh. At PNC Park on July 17, 2007, Fogg allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings of a 6-2 win for Colorado, but in his other two starts versus the Pirates, he was tagged for 16 runs and 17 hits in 7 1-3 innings.The fifth-place Pirates (54-65) lost for the seventh time in 10 games Tuesday, as their offense once again struggled.Pittsburgh was 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday, and has been held to three runs or less in six of its last seven gamesAll-Star center fielder Nate McLouth, who has 22 home runs on the season, is mired in a 12-game homerless drought, but is 5-for-9 with three home runs lifetime against Fogg.McLouth and the rest of the Pirates' offense will try to provide Paul Maholm (7-7, 3.76) with some run support.Maholm gave up five hits and struck out a career-high 10 in seven innings of a 2-0, 12-inning win at Philadelphia on Friday, but once again received no help from his offense. The left-hander, who has yielded one run or none in three of his last four outings, has been backed by only two runs of support in his last three starts.Maholm has seen similar results against Cincinnati this season. In two starts against the Reds this year, he has allowed two runs in 12 1-3 innings, but has received three runs of support to leave him without a decision twice.