Series: Game 2 of 4

Cincinnati leads 2-0 (as of 4/7)

Game 1: Thursday, April 6
Game 2: Friday, April 7
Game 3: Saturday, April 8
Game 4: Sunday, April 9

Pirates 6

(0-5, 0-5 away)

Reds 7

(3-1, 3-1 home)

    7:10 PM ET, April 7, 2006

    Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio 

    123456789 R H E
    PIT 000002013 6 10 0
    CIN 01400011 - 7 10 2

    W: E. Milton (1-0)

    L: P. Maholm (0-1)

    S: K. Mercker (1)

    Pirates lose to Reds, off to worst start in 32 years

    CINCINNATI (AP) -- That one big hit keeps eluding the Pittsburgh Pirates. So does that one breakout win.

    Felipe Lopez homered twice and drove in three runs Friday night, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a rain-delayed 7-6 victory that extended the Pirates' worst start in 32 years.

    Pittsburgh rallied for three runs in the ninth and had a chance to finally break out, but Jeromy Burnitz struck out on a pitch in the dirt and was thrown out at first base, keeping the Pirates 0-for-2006.

    The Pirates are 0-5 for the first time since 1974, when they lost their first six games. The 1955 club dropped its first eight, setting the franchise record for futility.

    "Nobody's going to help do it for us, but I certainly think we should realize the fact that we've played five ballgames and been in all five and had chances to win them," manager Jim Tracy said.

    Pittsburgh finished last in the NL Central a year ago, 33 games out. The Pirates retooled their everyday lineup, adding former Reds Sean Casey and Joe Randa, but are 4½ games out of first place less than a week into the season.

    Casey hit a two-run homer off left-hander Eric Milton (1-0), but the Pirates couldn't cobble together a rally against the pitcher who led the NL in runs and homers allowed last season. Milton gave up six hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out three in seven innings.

    "He had rhythm," Lopez said. "You could tell he was confident, and when he's like that, it trickles down to all of us."

    Pittsburgh got back into it with three runs in the ninth. One scored when left fielder Adam Dunn let Ryan Doumit's single get past him for an error, and pinch-hitter Craig Wilson had a two-run homer off David Weathers. Left-hander Kent Mercker struck out Burnitz with two on for his first save.

    Cincinnati finished fifth last year because its pitching staff was the NL's worst. Milton was the biggest disappointment in the bunch, losing 15 games and giving up a major league-leading 40 homers.

    In his first start of 2006, he waited through a delay of 2 hours, 25 minutes before the first pitch, then came through with one of his best performances for the Reds. He didn't allow a runner to reach second base until the sixth.

    "It's just frustrating," Milton said of the long wait. "I was sitting home antsy and bored, so I got here early. I was sitting around for seven hours, and this was my first start of the year. You want to get it done."

    Left-hander Paul Maholm (0-1) had control problems on a cool, drizzly night. He set a career high by walking five batters, and three of them scored. Lopez homered in the third following a walk, and Austin Kearns completed the rally with a two-run double that landed near a puddle on the right-field warning track.

    "The third inning pretty much killed me," Maholm said. "I fell behind everybody. A good team like that does the job. That's pretty much what happened. If I could have had a better inning, it could have been a better game."

    Lopez hit John Grabow's first pitch for another homer leading off the seventh, the second two-homer game of his career. David Ross added a solo shot in the eighth off Matt Capps.

    Seventeen homers have been hit in four games at Great American Ball Park, which led the majors in yielding homers last season.

    Nate McLouth was the first Pirate to reach second when he led off the sixth inning with a double, snapping an 0-for-19 slump by Pittsburgh's leadoff hitters. Casey homered one out later.

    Milton and Maholm were warming up and the field was lined and ready to go when the rain started. More than two hours later, the starters trudged back out to the bullpens to warm up again while workers cleared puddles from the warning track.

    The Reds sold 16,573 tickets for the game, but far fewer were in the stands for the first pitch. Two fans were arrested during the delay for running onto the field.

    Game notes

    Lopez's other two-homer game came for Toronto on Sept. 4, 2001, against the Yankees. ... Cincinnati has scored at least six runs in each of its four games, hitting a total of nine homers. ... Reds C Jason LaRue caught for 12 minutes in the bullpen without any problems. LaRue had surgery for torn cartilage in his right knee on March 27. He expects to be reinstated from the DL on Tuesday in Chicago for a series against the Cubs. ... Milton fanned Jason Bay in the first inning for his 1,000th career strikeout.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press