Reds look to take series lead from Pirates tonight

STATS Writer

(AP) — The Pittsburgh Pirates have found themselves on the wrong end of plenty of blowouts this season, but they have the majors’ best record in games decided by two runs or fewer.

Ryan Doumit is a big reason why.

A day after another late-inning homer from Pittsburgh’s catcher was the difference, Doumit looks to remain hot on the road Wednesday night as the Pirates continue their series against the Cincinnati Reds.

Pittsburgh (20-26) has lost 15 games by at least six runs, the big reason for a run differential (110) that’s 52 higher than the majors’ next-worst team.

The Pirates’ play when the score is close, though, has kept them from falling too far below .500. Doumit’s ninth-inning homer broke a 1-all tie Tuesday in Cincinnati, giving Pittsburgh a 2-1 win and a major league-best 15-7 record in games decided by two runs or fewer.

Doumit’s heroics have been a big reason for the Pirates’ prowess in close contests. All five of his homers have come in the eighth inning or later, with the past four either tying the score or giving Pittsburgh the lead.

“You certainly don’t script it like that,” said Doumit, who two days earlier hit a walk-off homer to beat Atlanta.

Doumit has been one of baseball’s most dangerous hitters away from home over the past month, batting .413 (19 for 26) with three homers and nine RBIs in 12 games.

“Especially of late, he’s been swinging the bat well,” manager John Russell said.

He’s just 1 for 7, however, against Bronson Arroyo (4-2, 4.85 ERA), who gets the ball Wednesday for the Reds (26-20).

Arroyo has won four consecutive decisions while posting a 3.22 ERA, including May 10 in Pittsburgh when he allowed one run over seven innings in a 2-1 victory. He gave up four runs over 6 2-3 innings in a 7-4 win Friday at Cleveland.

The lanky right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.12 ERA in his last five starts against the Pirates, holding his former team to a .183 average.

Arroyo will be opposed by the same pitcher he faced in his win earlier this month at PNC Park, Ross Ohlendorf (0-2, 5.30).

Ohlendorf gave up a run and three hits but lasted just four innings in that loss, his first after missing a month with back spasms. He also had four walks, and control issues have continued to plague the right-hander, who has walked 13 in 18 2-3 innings.

He gave up six runs, seven hits and three walks over 3 2-3 innings in a 7-0 loss to Atlanta on Friday.

“It was just one of those starts where he didn’t have much on the ball,” Russell told the Pirates’ official website. “With a team like this, you can’t have that kind of stuff and get through it very easily.”

Ohlendorf is 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA in three starts versus Cincinnati, and he’ll certainly want to be careful pitching to Joey Votto. The Reds first baseman, batting .400 over his last nine games, has hit for the cycle in seven career at-bats against Ohlendorf.