|4:05 PM PT5:05 PM MT6:05 PM CT7:05 PM ET19:05 ET23:05 GMT7:05 4:05 PM MST6:05 PM EST6:35 PM VEN3:05 UAE (+1)6:05 PM CT, August 3, 2017
PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Attendance: 25,955
Reds have firm hold on Pirates going into series finale
PITTSBURGH -- Don't ask them to come up with a plausible explanation. Neither the Cincinnati Reds nor the Pittsburgh Pirates can say why things have been so one-sided in their games this season.
Going into a series finale Thursday night at PNC Park, Cincinnati will be aiming for a three-game sweep. The Reds are 8-1 against the Pirates this season.
It's not as if the Reds (44-63) are tearing it up against everyone. They are 35-62 against everyone else.
"Can't explain either big successes or the teams we struggle with," Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said. "It's one of those things where you go, 'It's baseball,' because ... every team has that one.
"Let's say you're us, you're Philadelphia or Oakland or San Diego, teams that are 10 or 15 games under (.500). There are teams that they just play better (against). It doesn't matter what their win-loss record is. Sometimes it's just the matchup. For us ... for nine games, we've really been good against Pittsburgh."
The Pirates, conversely, have been snake-bitten against the Reds. The losses have come in various forms.
On Tuesday, it was a 9-1 spanking. On Wednesday, Pittsburgh overcame a two-run deficit to tie it 2-2 before giving up three late runs on homers.
The Reds have hit five homers in the two games so far this series.
"Guys play us good," center fielder Andrew McCutchen said after being the only Pirates player with two hits Wednesday. "They play some sound baseball, pitch well. They've gotten timely hits these last couple days. We just got the short end of the stick the past couple days."
McCutchen insisted the Reds aren't in the Pirates' heads.
"No. You start being psychological in this game, you'll dig your own grave," he said. "The game's the game. You go out and try to win. The other team's trying to win, too."
After Thursday, Pittsburgh still has three series left against the Reds.
Right-hander Sal Romano (2-2, 4.57 ERA) will get to experience the Reds-Pirates "phenomenon" firsthand for the first time on Thursday. He is scheduled to start in what will be his sixth major league appearance.
Romano joined the rotation after the All-Star break and will make his fourth start since that move.
Romano, who was one of Cincinnati's final cuts in the spring, had probably his most frustrating outing his last time out, a no-decision when he walked six in 3 2/3 innings on Friday in the Reds' 7-4 loss at Miami.
"You can't defend walks," said Romano, who gave up two runs and two hits and struck out five in that game.
In four starts since the beginning of July, Romano has walked a combined 11 in a loss and the no-decision but just two in two wins.
"I'm not really giving up the extra-base hits or the hits, but I'm putting guys on with free passes," Romano said. "There's just no excuses for that. I've just got to ... continue to get better every day."
Romano will be matched against Chad Kuhl (3-7, 4.84). He also will be new to the Cincinnati-Pittsburgh matchup.
Kuhl has allowed more than two earned runs just three times in his past 11 starts. Most recently, he got a no-decision Friday in Pittsburgh's 3-2 loss in San Diego. He allowed two runs and four hits in 5 1/3 innings but didn't get offensive support as Pittsburgh managed just three hits.
Updated August 3, 2017