Just like its starters, Pittsburgh's bullpen is struggling, but the Pirates still have a chance to finally find some success on the road.
The Pirates will be trying for their first road series win in nearly seven weeks when they wrap up their three-game set with the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday.Pittsburgh entered this series 29-0 when leading after seven innings despite its shaky bullpen. The Pirates' 5.08 ERA is the worst in baseball, and the relievers have a 4.64 ERA, but are 18-12.Closer Matt Capps gave up Ken Griffey Jr.'s two-run game-winning homer in Monday's 4-3 loss to the Reds (39-46), and blew a one-run lead in the 10th inning on Tuesday. The Pirates (39-44) hung on to win 6-5 in 11 innings, and Capps -- who has blown five of his last seven save opportunities after converting his first 15 -- got the win.The Pirates own one of the worst road records in the majors at 14-25. They have lost or tied their last five road series since taking two of three in St. Louis May 13-15.Wednesday's victory moved Pittsburgh a game ahead of Cincinnati, which fell back into last place in the NL Central. The Reds had won their previous three games, but have dropped six of seven at home.Brandon Phillips was 3-for-5 with a two-run homer and four RBIs for Cincinnati."We had several situations," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Those kinds of things come back to haunt you when you don't pick them up. Bases loaded, only getting one run. In one-run games, you look back at a lot of little things that cost you."Cincinnati will try to win the series behind Daryl Thompson (0-1, 3.60 ERA), who is making his third career start and first at home. He gave up four runs in five innings of Friday's 6-0 loss in Cleveland, six days after throwing five scoreless innings in his big league debut at Yankee Stadium.Thompson worked his way out of trouble for the majority of both starts, throwing 96 pitches in the first and 99 in the second.Pittsburgh counters with John Van Benschoten (1-2, 8.31), who is making his second start of the season and first since May 12. The right-hander, who has also made four relief outings this season, was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday to help out an injury-plagued pitching staff and threw one scoreless inning of relief that night, picking up the win in Pittsburgh's 13-inning, 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay.It was the second win of his career and first since Sept. 10, 2004 against Houston. Van Benschoten went 0-7 with a 10.15 ERA in nine starts and two relief outings last season."It's definitely a confidence booster," said Van Benschoten, a first-round draft pick in 2001. "It was definitely a good way to end the night. That was a grind out there. It was huge to win the game."Van Benschoten grew up just outside Cincinnati in Milford, but has never faced the Reds.