Pirates manage 13 hits; Ohlendorf wins third straight game

PITTSBURGH -- Two singles to start the first inning, then an apparent Nate McLouth double play grounder. The Pittsburgh Pirates began this game the same way they did in losing the night before, only with a much different result.

McLouth's hard-hit ball caromed over second baseman Brandon Phillips' glove for a run-scoring single, allowed Pittsburgh to stop a 22-inning scoreless streak, and the Pirates held on to beat the Cincinnati Reds 8-6 on Saturday night as Ross Ohlendorf won his third in a row.

McLouth had three hits and scored three times and Ramon Vazquez's two-run single keyed the four-run first inning that got the Pittsburgh offense going following consecutive shutout losses. The Pirates had lost four in a row and five of seven, only to twice put together multiple-run innings when the Reds couldn't turn double plays.

"Obviously, we'll take any hits, even a bad hop," Freddy Sanchez said. "It happened to work out in our favor there. That didn't really dictate whether it was going to be a good or bad game for us, it just happened to go our way and we kept it going."

The Reds, down 8-4 starting the ninth, scored twice and had the bases loaded with two out before Pirates closer Matt Capps struck out Alex Gonzalez, who hit a three-run homer that cut Pittsburgh's lead to 5-3 in the fourth.

McLouth's return Friday following a six-game layoff with a rib cage injury helped pick up the Pirates, who are currently without catcher Ryan Doumit (broken wrist bone) and shortstop Jack Wilson (sprained finger).

"It was big having him [McLouth] back and coming up big for us," Sanchez said.

Each of McLouth's three hits created runs. He singled leading off the third, and again during a two-run seventh that was kept going by Phillips' error for misplaying third baseman Adam Rosales' throw on another apparent double-play grounder.

Reds pitchers were working on their own streak of 19 consecutive scoreless innings, but Micah Owings (1-3) gave up a run before he could get an out. Nyjer Morgan, Sanchez and McLouth singled, Adam LaRoche was hit by a pitch to force in a run and Vazquez's line-drive single into right field quickly made it 4-0.

"Everyone knows we hadn't scored in what seemed like a week," Vazquez said. "I'm sure it took some of the heat off the pitchers. They probably felt like they had to throw a shutout to have any chance to win."

The Pirates had four hits in the first inning and 13 overall, or nearly twice as many as the seven they had during a scoreless streak that began in the sixth inning of their 6-5 loss to Milwaukee on Tuesday. They were shut out by the Brewers 1-0 on two hits Wednesday and managed only five singles in losing to the Reds 4-0 on Friday, when their offense did almost nothing after McLouth hit in a double play in the first following hits by Morgan and Sanchez.

"A lot of times, one inning is what does you in," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "The ball hits the ground [on the McLouth grounder] and skips, that was fortunate on their behalf."

Ohlendorf (3-2) gave up Gonzalez's three-run drive, but those were the only runs he permitted over six innings. The former Yankees reliever has given up six runs in 20 innings over his last three starts, lasting seven innings twice and six once.

"I've been real happy with my consistency," Ohlendorf said.

Owings gave up five runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings during his 10th loss in his last 11 decisions.

"Unfortunately, I got banged up a little bit there in the first," said Owings, who frequently struggles at the start. "I felt I was making pretty good pitches. I can't put my hands on it, I was loose, I felt good. If somebody finds out, let me know."

Game notes
Owings, one of baseball's best hitting pitchers, went 0-for-3 to cut his average to .286. ... Owings' .667 career average (6-for-9) against Pittsburgh coming in was the highest of any player over the last three seasons, based on a minimum of nine at-bats. ... The Reds haven't had three consecutive shutouts since June 21-23, 1963; the Pirates haven't been shut out three times in a row since Aug. 28-30, 1968.