MLB Insiders: Cincinnati Reds

The Pirates open a four-game series in Cincinnati on Monday night. Lefty Brian Burres will pitch for the Bucs. The Reds will toss right-hander Aaron Harang.

The Reds open a seven-game homestand Monday night looking to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates for the ninth time in 11 meetings.

Joey Votto should be happy to see the Pirates, whom he's hitting .375 against with four homers and 22 RBIs in 35 games.

Aaron Harang (2-5, 6.02 ERA) hopes Votto can continue that production after getting no run support in three of his last four games with three of those outings resulting in Reds losses. The right-hander didn't get any offensive help or a decision Wednesday, allowing four runs and eight hits in six innings of a 5-4 loss at Atlanta.

He won his most recent start against the Pirates on April 12, 2009, throwing a three-hitter while striking out nine in a 2-0 home win.

Brian Burres (2-1, 4.91) will get his first start against the Reds as he tries to improve upon his last start against Milwaukee on Wednesday. The left-hander allowed three runs in six innings and helped himself with an RBI single in the fourth, but didn't get a decision in a 6-4 win.

Burres' only appearance against Cincinnati was a perfect ninth inning of relief as the Pirates were one-hit by Johnny Cueto in a 9-0 loss May 11.

Right-hander Homer Bailey left Sunday's game in the third inning, complaining of tightness in right shoulder.

Bailey, 24, will be evaluated Monday in Cincinnati by team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek.

Bailey, a first-round pick in 2004, has no history of shoulder problems and had been pitching well. He allowed only two runs on eight hits over 16 innings in his last two starts.

Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman will not be the pitcher who replaces Bailey, should he go the disabled list. Chapman will miss his next start because of the blister that caused him to leave his last start.

It was poor timing for the Reds, who had hoped a strong start could rest their bullpen, but instead were forced to use three relievers.

INDIANS 4, REDS 3: Scott Rolen hit two homers for Cincinnati, but the Reds allowed four different Indians to drive in runs and watched starter Homer Bailey exit in the third inning. Bailey complained of tightness in his right shoulder and will be evaluated Monday by the team's medical director. Daniel Ray Herrera gave up an RBI single to Jhonny Peralta in the bottom of the sixth to take the loss.


--RHP Francisco Cordero continues to struggle. Cordero has converted 14 of 17 save opportunities, but he's had few clean innings. Cordero's WHIP (walk, hit per inning) is 1.59 and his ERA is 4.09. Both are the second highest among the top 10 pitches in the National League as far as saves. His WHIP was 1.32 and his ERA was 2.16 last year. "He's been throwing a lot lately," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. Cordero has appeared in 24 games, the most of any closer in the NL.

--RF Jay Bruce came out of his 0-for-12 skid with a 4-for-4, two-RBI game Saturday night. "I didn't really feel that bad at the plate," Bruce said. "There was one game in Atlanta where I got away from my approach. But I need to stay focused at the plate. Those 0-for-12s or whatever add up quick."

--RHP Johnny Cueto left his start Saturday night with a small blister on the tip of the index finger of his pitching hand. Cueto said the finger was better Sunday. "You don't want it to become chronic," manager Dusty Baker said. "I've seen that with guys. They're doing something. Tough Skin, any skin, some skin, some kind of skin."

--3B Scott Rolen hit two home runs Sunday. That gave him 10 for the year. He hit 11 in each of the last two seasons and eight in 2007.

--LF Laynce Nix hit home runs in three straight games and went 8-for-13 overall this weekend. But he was out of the lineup Sunday because Cleveland started left-hander David Huff. He pinch-hit in the ninth and struck out.

BY THE NUMBERS: .289 -- Reds' batting average with runners in scoring position through May 22. That ranked them fourth in baseball.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Around here, people are a little skeptical because there are times we started out good and come August you couldn't find us. I don't think this is that kind of team." -- Reds manager Dusty Baker, after the Reds passed the St. Louis Cardinals to move into first place.



--RHP Homer Bailey (right shoulder) left in the third inning on May 23 due after complaining of tightness. He will be evaluated Monday in Cincinnati by team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek.

--RHP Johnny Cueto (right index finger) left his start on May 22 with a small blister on the tip of the index finger of his pitching hand. Cueto said the finger was better on May 23.

--CF Chris Dickerson (broken bone in right hand, sprained right wrist) went on the 15-day disabled list April 30. He had hand and wrist surgery May 3, and he will be out until at least early June.

--RHP Edinson Volquez (Tommy John surgery in August 2009) went on the 60-day disabled list Feb. 22. He began throwing off the mound before spring training ended -- a major step in his rehab. He could return shortly after the All-Star break.

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