Wood, Cairo spark Reds past Pittsburgh, 4-0

Published 1:46 am Tuesday, August 3, 2010

PITTSBURGH — The atmosphere wasn’t the same, the lineup wasn’t the same. Not that it mattered to rookie Travis Wood and the Reds, who were too focused on returning to first place to notice.

Wood shut out the Pirates on two singles over seven innings, fill-in first baseman Miguel Cairo drove in two runs and Cincinnati regained the NL Central lead, beating Pittsburgh 4-0 on Monday night.

Russ Springer, the 41-year-old right-hander brought up from the minors earlier in the day, and Arthur Rhodes, the 40-year-old first-time All-Star, pitched an inning each to complete the combined three-hitter with the 23-year-old Wood.

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The Reds won their fourth in five games with their seventh shutout of the season. St. Louis fell a half-game behind Cincinnati by losing at home to Houston, 9-4.

For Wood, this was one of those examples of a starting pitcher feeling great warming up in the bullpen, then carrying it into the game.

“All my pitches were working well,” Wood said. “I was able to get some quick outs and things went my way. I tried to work quick with the fastball and let my pitches work off it, and I was able to throw strikes to both sides of the plate.”

Chris Heisey finished off the Reds’ seventh victory in their last eight against Pittsburgh with an inside-the-park home run in the eighth inning.

Heisey’s line drive over the head of shortstop Ronny Cedeno and into the left-center gap was misplayed by center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who wasn’t given an error despite permitting the ball to roll to the wall.

Heisey didn’t realize until he was nearing third that he might be sent home.

“It’s the equivalent of running from the back of the end zone to the back of the other end zone in football and I know those guys look gassed when they have a 100-yard punt return,” Heisey said. “Now I know why — it’s a long run to be going full speed the whole time.”

The Pirates, on pace for their record-extending 18th consecutive losing season and their first 100-loss season since 2001, have been outscored 34-5 while losing their last five. They have scored two runs in their last four, with the Cardinals outscoring them 21-2 during a three-game weekend sweep.

Three losses were in games started by some of the NL’s top pitchers — Ubaldo Jimenez, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter — but the left-handed Wood (2-1) had made only six previous career starts, winning once. His first career victory was a 10-2 decision over Milwaukee on Wednesday, when he lasted five innings.

Wood was in control from the start before a smallish crowd of 15,172 in PNC Park, never allowing a runner past second base while giving up singles by Neil Walker in the first and Lastings Milledge in the fifth. He struck out four and walked one, lowering his ERA to 2.42.

The Reds were coming off a weekend series in which they sold out three times at home against Atlanta.

“It’s not like we’re used to selling out every night, but you don’t treat the game any differently because there’s less excitement going on in the stadium,” Heisey said. “I don’t think we pay too much attention to how many people are in the stands.”

Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf (1-9) withstood being struck by a line drive in the first inning for the second straight game, but walked four and hit a batter over five innings. Walks to Brandon Phillips and Orlando Cabrera set up Cairo’s run-scoring single in the first.

Cairo, filling in for NL RBIs leader Joey Votto, who sat out with a sprained right wrist, also had a sacrifice fly in the fourth after Phillips singled and stole second.

Ohlendorf, pulled Wednesday in Colorado after being struck in the head by Troy Tulowitzki’s line drive, took a liner off the side of his right knee by Jonny Gomes, but the ball ricocheted to first baseman Garrett Jones for the out. Ohlendorf flashed a smile and stayed in the game.

“I thought it was funny more than anything else. That’s two games in a row,” Ohlendorf said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen the next time. At least it saved a hit.”

NOTES: Pirates rookie 3B Pedro Alvarez, in a 2-for-28 slump, didn’t start for the second time since his June 16 callup. … Votto is day to day. … C Chris Snyder, acquired Saturday from Arizona, made his first start for Pittsburgh. … Reds rookie Mike Leake, skipped in the Atlanta series as the Reds monitor his innings, will start Tuesday. … Pirates 1B Steve Pearce, out most of the season, will have left knee surgery Wednesday. … Reds SS Orlando Cabrera left the game with a sore left side after grounding out in the ninth. The Reds are uncertain of his status for Tuesday.