Reds lose 7th straight exhibition

Published 12:23 am Sunday, March 22, 2009

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — With another sharp outing, Paul Maholm extended his scoreless streak to 15 2-3 innings and strengthened his bid to become the Pittsburgh Pirates’ opening-day starter.

‘‘I think everybody knows it will be Paul,’’ Pittsburgh manager John Russell said after Saturday’s 6-5 victory over Cincinnati, which sent the Reds to their seventh straight loss. ‘‘We haven’t announced anything officially, but we’re leaning that way.’’

Maholm allowed three hits in six innings, struck out four and walked none. He has given up one run in 19 2-3 innings this spring training.

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Nate McLouth broke a scoreless tie with his third home run of spring training, a fourth-inning drive off Homer Bailey.

Bailey started his first Grapefruit League game since March 11 — his previous turn fell on a Reds’ off-day. He allowed three runs, four hits and two walks in 4 2-3 innings.

‘‘My stuff was average,’’ Bailey said. ‘‘At the end, I started rushing a little bit. I thought, Ok, that’s what I need to work on tomorrow.’’