(Sports Network) - Travis Wood has been a huge boost to the Cincinnati Reds' rotation and finally has a win to show for it. The Pittsburgh Pirates hope to get a similar lift tonight from Ross Ohlendorf, who has to feel lucky he can even make his scheduled start.
Wood aims to win a second straight start, while Ohlendorf takes the hill for the first time since getting struck on the head by a line drive in his previous outing when Cincinnati opens a three-game set with host Pittsburgh tonight at PNC Park.
The right-handed Ohlendorf saw his last start end after only nine pitches and two outs after getting hit by a liner off the bat of Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki on Wednesday. Ohlendorf suffered only a contusion, however, and is expected to make tonight's start.
He will be aiming for his first victory since July 2 and is 1-8 with a 4.35 earned run average on the season. Ohlendorf, who turns 28 this Sunday, has lost both of his starts to the Reds this year and allowed a total of four runs over 10 innings, and is 1-2 against them lifetime with a 3.97 ERA in five games, including four starts.
The Pirates offense, which has scored just 25 runs in its last 10 games, plated just two total in getting swept by the St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend. Pittsburgh lost Sunday's finale, 9-1, as Ronny Cedeno drove in the team's lone run and Zach Duke allowed six runs over five innings.
"Obviously the numbers don't match up with the way I felt I pitched," said Duke, whose club has lost four straight and eight of 10. "It's tough with the way things got out of hand. But I'm still going to take the positives out of this start and build on it."
One player immune to Pittsburgh's recent struggles is Jose Tabata, who notched a pair of hits on Sunday and is batting .400 (20-for-50) over a 12-game hitting streak.
Tabata's club will get its first look at Wood, who is 1-1 with a 2.87 ERA through six big-league starts.
The 23-year-old was charged with just 10 earned runs over his first five outings, but went 0-1 in that span. He finally earned his first victory Wednesday in Milwaukee, limiting the Brewers to a pair of runs on five hits over five innings in what was the second-shortest start since making his debut on July 1.
"It feels good. Coming out today, every game, I'm trying to get that first one," the left-handed Wood told Cincinnati's website after the 10-2 victory. "Today I was able to throw well and keep the team close. We ended up getting a lot of big runs late. We battled and got it done."
Cincinnati's offense was limited on Sunday, but it was enough to beat Atlanta by a 2-1 margin. Brandon Phillips tripled in the tying run in the fifth inning and then scored the go-ahead run on an error later in the frame.
Edinson Volquez allowed just the one run and three hits despite issuing five walks over five frames of work. Cincinnati's bullpen followed with four scoreless innings, with Francisco Cordero earning his 29th save.
The Reds won the series and have taken four of five and six of their last nine games overall to stay a half-game back of the Cardinals for first place in the National League Central.
"The Braves are a tough team to play," said Phillips. "They did their job but I feel like the best team won. We went out and played the game the best way we know how and did the situational things, and that's why we wound up winning."
Cincinnati has won six of 10 versus Pittsburgh this year, with the clubs splitting six games so far at PNC Park.