Paul Maholm lowered his ERA to 1.32 with his second strong start yesterday in Cincinnati.
By Chuck Finder Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
CINCINNATI -- Consider Brandon Moss 2 for 3 now.
On throws from right field to home plate, that is.
After an errant throw -- one he claimed he mistakenly heaved earthward into his left big toe -- failed to retire St. Louis' Chris Duncan at home in the eighth inning opening day, Moss has thrown out two in a row. He nailed the Cardinals' Yadier Molina at the plate Thursday in Busch Stadium, then repeated the feat yesterday against Cincinnati's Joey Votto in Great American Ball Park.
"I just threw that right off my front toe," Moss moaned about the botched first attempt in St. Louis. "I was just glad to make some better throws."
Game: Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds, 1:10 p.m., Great American Ball Park.
TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WPGB-FM (104.7).
Pitching: RHP Ian Snell (0-1, 13.50) vs. RHP Aaron Harang (0-1, 1.80)
Key matchup: Harang threw six no-hit innings at the Pirates the previous time he faced them -- OK, so it was March 22, in spring training. He was 0-2 with 6.35 ERA vs. Pirates last year.
Of note: Harang allowed only one earned run to the New York Mets in a 2-1 loss opening day, and just two of his seven hits allowed -- a double and home run -- weren't bloop or infield singles.
Yesterday, with starter Paul Maholm showing his first signs of trouble after 3 2/3 innings of perfect pitching, the Reds put their first two runners aboard via a Votto walk and a Brandon Phillips line-drive single to left field -- the first hit of the day against Maholm. Edwin Encarnacion followed with a sharp single to right, and Votto headed home. Moss fired home, where Ryan Doumit patiently waited to tag Votto, who even tried to slide around a plate-blocking catcher but couldn't.
Asked if he was icing down his throwing arm afterward like a pitcher, Moss shot a look of pretended indignation and offered: "Got to."
Karstens OK with waiting
Pirates manager John Russell doesn't want to juggle the rest of his rotation, so the rainout Friday means a bullpen assignment for No. 5 starter Jeff Karstens -- who seemed content with the idea of waiting another five days for his first start of the season.
Pushing back every other starter to let Karstens go yesterday "would kind of change things too much for too many people as opposed to just one or two guys," Russell said. "Fourth and fifth starters, sometimes that can happen. We'll put Jeff in the bullpen until Monday, hopefully get him an outing or two. If not, we'll have to extend him out on the side. He'll make his start Thursday" against Houston in PNC Park.
Karstens likes the idea, too: "I can kind of ease myself into it. I can come out of the bullpen, get in a little work, [get] a chance to look at what I've done. It'll be nice to open up at home in front of our own fans."
Injured, sick on the farm
Pitcher Bryan Morris, one of the Pirates' top prospects, was placed on the disabled list by Class A Lynchburg with what was described as a right-shoulder inflammation. He was slowed through spring training by a surgically repaired big toe and had yet to make a start this season.
No word yet on the extent of the elbow injury to Class AAA Indianapolis starter Jimmy Barthmaier, a member of the Pirates' 40-man roster. He left after walking the first two batters to open Indianapolis' game Friday. An MRI is set for this week.
Class AA Altoona pitcher Derek Hankins yesterday was placed on the disabled list due to a stomach illness.
• After making three errors in the season-opening two games and sitting out the next two, third baseman Andy LaRoche fashioned a gem in throwing out Encarnacion from foul territory in the second.
• The rainout Friday likely will mean that backup catcher Jason Jaramillo won't make his major league debut today.