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Jun 26, 2024 2:44 am

Reds ready to bring back Graham Ashcraft to face Pirates

Graham Ashcraft

The Pittsburgh Pirates are out to prove they are more than just Bryan Reynolds, the hottest hitter in their lineup, as they seek a win on Wednesday in the decisive game of their series against the host Cincinnati Reds.

The Reds captured the opener 11-5 on Monday before the Pirates rebounded with a 9-5 win on Tuesday.

Pittsburgh has won 10 of its last 15 against Cincinnati, including three of five so far this season.

Pirates infielder Nick Gonzales snapped out of a 1-for-25 slump with three hits Tuesday night. Reynolds extended his hitting streak to a career-best 22-game streak, socking a two-run homer in the first inning and adding a single in the third.

Reynolds’ streak is the longest in the majors this year and the longest by a Pirate since Jason Kendall’s 23-game run from June 24-July 21, 2003.

Cincinnati outfielder Will Benson was hitless in four at-bats Tuesday, extending his slump to 0-for-25.

Pirates right-hander Dennis Santana was hit by a comebacker from Tyler Stephenson in the fifth inning on Monday. Santana was able to finish the inning but swelling appeared later and he was removed. He is listed as day-to-day with a right arm contusion.

“He said on the last pitch he couldn’t get much extension,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “(It’s) going to be swollen because he got hit pretty flush.”

The Reds are dealing with injury woes, too. Ace left-hander Nick Lodolo went on the injured list on Tuesday for a second time this season, this time due to a blister on his left index finger. A day earlier, TJ Friedl went back on the IL because of a right hamstring strain.

Tuesday marked the major league debut of 26-year-old Reds right-hander Yosver Zulueta. He walked the first two batters he faced before striking out the next two and allowing one run over three innings.

“Obviously, he’s talented,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He has a really great sinker, throws hard, good movement on his pitches. Probably the most impressive thing is he walks the first two hitters and just stayed with it and kept his composure. That’s what he’s been doing in Triple-A.”

The Pirates and Reds waited until after the Tuesday game to announce their starting pitchers for the Wednesday finale.

Pittsburgh will send right-hander Luis L. Ortiz (3-2, 3.45 ERA) to the mound for his first start of the year.

Ortiz has made 21 appearances out of the bullpen in 2024, the worst of which was his most recent outing. He allowed six runs on a career-high-tying 10 hits in four innings on Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Ortiz has no record with a 2.89 ERA in two career appearances (one start) against Cincinnati. The start came in his major league debut on Sept. 13, 2022, when he allowed just one hit over 5 2/3 scoreless innings.

The Reds will counter with right-hander Graham Ashcraft (4-3, 5.05 ERA), who will be called up from Triple-A Louisville. He will be making his 13th start of the season but his first since being sent down following his June 5 outing against the Colorado Rockies. In that contest, Ashcraft gave up four runs on six hits over 3 2/3 innings.

Ashcraft allowed at least three runs in each of his last six starts before his demotion on June 6. While with Louisville, Ashcraft allowed four runs on 10 hits over two starts, going 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA.

Ashcraft is 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA in three career starts against Pittsburgh, striking out 18 and walking five in 18 2/3 innings.

–Field Level Media

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