CINCINNATI -- For the Pittsburgh Pirates, it was a day like nearly every other one this season.
Bad start. Nice comeback. Same empty ending.
Rich Aurilia hit a three-run homer, and the surging Cincinnati Reds took advantage of an inning full of Pirates slapstick and held on for an 11-9 victory Saturday, extending Pittsburgh's worst start in 32 years.
"It was not my day," said left-hander Oliver Perez (0-1), who put the Pirates behind in the first inning and set them on course for their latest loss. "I'll try to forget this game."
So far, the Pirates' season is one bad memory.
Pittsburgh is 0-6 for the first time since 1974. The franchise record for season-opening futility is an 0-8 mark in 1955.
The Pirates and the Phillies are the last winless teams in the majors -- Philadelphia remained 0-4 after its game was rained out Saturday. Pittsburgh already trails Milwaukee by 5½ games in the NL Central.
The Pirates scored three times in the ninth to make it closer, with Freddy Sanchez sparking the rally with a two-run single. Rick White got Jose Castillo to ground out with Sanchez on second base to finish it off and get his first save since June 23.
All three games against Cincinnati have followed the same pattern.
"Each and every time we creep back into the game, it's followed by additional runs on the other side of the field," manager Jim Tracy lamented. "You're trying to get back into the game three and four times a day, and that's tough to do."
Since opening the season with an embarrassing 16-7 loss to the Cubs after President Bush's first pitch, Cincinnati has won four in a row. The Reds have scored 39 runs in their five games, more than enough to win even a smidgen of good pitching.
"With the offense we have, all you have to worry about is (making) your pitches," said Aaron Harang (1-1), who rebounded from his rough opening day start. "We know the offense is going to score."
Aurilia broke an 0-for-12 slump with a three-run homer in the second off Perez, who had a rare off game against Cincinnati. The left-hander had fanned at least 10 batters in five of his 12 career starts against the Reds, but never looked comfortable in this one.
Ken Griffey Jr. drew a bases-loaded walk from Perez in the decisive fourth inning for the 1,540th RBI of his career, tying Pittsburgh's Willie Stargell for 30th on the career list, which includes games since 1920.
Griffey's four-pitch walk was part of a slapstick inning that ultimately was the Pirates' downfall. Austin Kearns led off with his first homer, and the Pirates kept it going with a series of gaffes.
Perez dropped Harang's soft comeback grounder for an error, and the Reds scored on Griffey's walk, a passed ball and a wild pitch, making it 8-3 and setting the Pirates on course for another loss.
"Everybody knows it's how you finish, not how you start," said Perez, who gave up eight runs in 3 1/3 innings. "We're not winning now, so we're going to forget this game. We know we can start winning games. It's part of baseball. This happens to the good teams."
Harang matched his career high with 10 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings, fanning Jeromy Burnitz three times. Castillo had three of the Pirates' eight hits off Harang, including a two-run homer and an RBI single.
The top of the Reds' order had a solid game. Ryan Freel singled three times, walked, stole two bases and scored three runs, while Felipe Lopez singled twice, walked and scored twice. Kearns, batting seventh, had a single, a double and a homer.
The Reds' biggest shortcoming so far has been a bullpen that gave up eight runs in the last two games.
"Every run we score is big," manager Jerry Narron said. "We knew we had a chance to score a lot of runs. It's a matter of shutting people down."
|Cincinnati's Edwin Encarnacion handles a play at third base as the Reds win their fourth straight. (AP)|
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|Chris Duffy, CF||5||1||1||0||0||2||0||.111|
|Jack Wilson, SS||4||1||2||2||1||0||0||.333|
|Sean Casey, 1B||5||1||1||0||0||1||2||.280|
|Jason Bay, LF||4||3||3||0||1||0||0||.381|
|Jeromy Burnitz, RF||4||0||0||0||0||3||3||.182|
|John Grabow, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Jose Hernandez, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||3||.200|
|Freddy Sanchez, 3B||5||1||3||3||0||0||2||.500|
|Jose Castillo, 2B||4||2||3||3||1||0||1||.455|
|Humberto Cota, C||2||0||0||0||0||2||1||.125|
|Ryan Vogelsong, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Nate McLouth, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.167|
|Salomon Torres, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- Craig Wilson, PH-RF||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||.429|
|Oliver Perez, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.250|
|Ryan Doumit, C||3||0||0||0||0||3||3||.154|
|a-struck out for Grabow in the 9th|
|b-struck out for Vogelsong in the 7th|
|c-struck out for Torres in the 8th|
|2B - Chris Duffy (1, Harang), Jack Wilson (2, Burns), Jason Bay (1, Harang), Freddy Sanchez 2 (2, Harang, Belisle)|
|HR - Jose Castillo (1, Harang)|
|RBI - Jack Wilson 2 (2), Freddy Sanchez 3 (3), Jose Castillo 3 (4)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jack Wilson 2 (2), Freddy Sanchez 2 (2), Jose Castillo 3 (3)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|PB - Ryan Doumit (2)|
|E - Oliver Perez (1, Misplayed grounder)|
|Oliver Perez (L,0-1)||3.1||6||8||5||4||2||2||6.23|
|IBB - Dunn by Ryan Vogelsong|
|WP - Ryan Vogelsong (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Oliver Perez 85-50, Ryan Vogelsong 34-20, Salomon Torres 25-18, John Grabow 19-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Oliver Perez 2-7, Ryan Vogelsong 3-3, Salomon Torres 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Oliver Perez 21, Ryan Vogelsong 11, Salomon Torres 7, John Grabow 4|
|Ryan Freel, 2B||4||3||3||1||1||0||1||.545|
|Felipe Lopez, SS||4||2||2||0||1||2||1||.429|
|Ken Griffey Jr., CF||4||0||0||1||1||0||3||.190|
|Rich Aurilia, 1B||4||1||2||3||1||0||2||.263|
|Adam Dunn, LF||3||0||0||1||1||3||1||.412|
|Chris Hammond, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Rick White, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Edwin Encarnacion, 3B||4||1||1||0||1||0||4||.250|
|Austin Kearns, RF||5||2||3||1||0||0||1||.381|
|Javier Valentin, C||4||1||1||2||0||1||1||.333|
|Aaron Harang, P||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mike Burns, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Andy Abad, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.000|
|Matt Belisle, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Chris Denorfia, LF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1.000|
|a-flied out for Burns in the 7th|
|2B - Austin Kearns (4, Torres), Javier Valentin (1, Torres)|
|HR - Rich Aurilia (2, Perez), Austin Kearns (1, Perez)|
|SF - Adam Dunn (2)|
|SH - Aaron Harang (1)|
|RBI - Ryan Freel (1), Ken Griffey Jr. (4), Rich Aurilia 3 (7), Adam Dunn (5), Austin Kearns (3), Javier Valentin 2 (2)|
|SB - Ryan Freel 2 (5, 3rd base off Perez/Cota, 2nd base off Perez/Cota), Felipe Lopez (1, 2nd base off Perez/Cota)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|Aaron Harang (W,1-1)||6.2||8||5||5||0||10||1||8.49|
|Rick White (S,1)||0.2||1||0||0||0||1||0||7.36|
|WP - Matt Belisle (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Aaron Harang 118-80, Mike Burns 8-6, Matt Belisle 27-15, Chris Hammond 12-6, Rick White 14-11|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Aaron Harang 6-4, Matt Belisle 1-0, Rick White 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Aaron Harang 28, Mike Burns 2, Matt Belisle 6, Chris Hammond 4, Rick White 3|
|Attendance - 20262|
|Game Time - 3:15|
|Temperature - 45|
|Umpires - Home - Larry Poncino, First Base - Bruce Dreckman, Second Base - Ed Hickox, Third Base - Gary Darling|