Homers, Gorzelanny help Pirates finish 3-game sweep of Reds

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates went from being swept by the Cubs to sweeping the Reds in the same home stand. No doubt it wasn't a coincidence Tom Gorzelanny looked like two different pitchers during his two starts of the unusual week.

Ryan Doumit, Xavier Nady and Jason Bay homered and Gorzelanny bounced back from one of his worst career starts to outpitch Cincinnati rookie Johnny Cueto, leading the Pirates to a 9-1 victory Sunday and their first series sweep in nearly a year.

Gorzelanny (1-1), becoming the only Pirates starter other than Ian Snell to win this season, limited the Reds to one run and four hits despite walking four over 6 1/3 innings. He was coming off a no-decision Monday when he allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings of the Pirates' home opener against the Cubs, matching the shortest start of the 47 he has made in the majors.

"I was more confident, I was challenging guys and I let them get themselves out," said Gorzelanny, a 14-game winner last season. "I stayed in the strike zone a lot more than I did the last time. We worked on a lot of things between starts and I went back to attacking hitters."

Pittsburgh was swept in three games by the Cubs from Monday through Wednesday only to do the same thing to Cincinnati during the weekend, the Pirates' first sweep at home since they took three against the Astros last April 24-26. They hadn't swept Cincinnati since July 23-25, 2004.

Maybe it's only 12 games, but the Pirates are 6-6 and, despite losing twice against the Cubs in extra innings with rookie relievers on the mound, they are hitting and pitching better than they have in April the last few seasons.

Maybe it's a little too early for the Pirates to talk about ending that streak of 15 consecutive losing seasons, but Bay sees a lot of positives even though they also were 6-6 a year ago.

"I think people are reluctant to say we have to get off to a good start, but for the five years I've been here I've always been one of those people who say we need to get off to a good start," Bay said. "If you get too far behind early, it's hard to dig out of that hole. Those last three games [against the Cubs], we could have put ourselves in a hole but we came back and played very well."

Doumit hit a solo homer in the second and added a sacrifice fly, Nady hit a two-run shot in the sixth and Bay added a three-run drive in the seventh against reliever Todd Coffey as the Pirates had an easy one after winning one-run decisions the previous two nights.

"To come back after being swept to sweep is huge," Nate McLouth said.

Cueto (1-1), outstanding in his first two starts with 18 strikeouts and no walks, wasn't as sharp in this one as he gave up five runs and five hits -- four for extra bases -- in six innings. He struck out six but also issued his first walk, to McLouth in the third ahead of Luis Rivas' run-scoring double.

Cueto struck out 22 batters until he finally gave up a walk after being the only pitcher since 1900 to strike out as many as 18 and walk none in his first two starts.

"Johnny got some balls up in the zone a little bit and over the heart of the plate, like he doesn't usually do," manager Dusty Baker said. "He didn't warm up as well as he has in the past, he told me. ... It wasn't a very good day and it was a worse weekend."

Baker was told the game would start on time, but a 9-minute rain delay forced Cueto to warm up again briefly after he initially threw in the bullpen. Baker blamed it on miscommunication, though neither he nor Cueto said it was a factor in the right-hander's pitching.

"I was warming up good but then they stopped me because of the rain, but I'm not going to blame that," Cueto said through an interpreter.

McLouth, the major league hits leader with 22 hits in 12 games, doubled in the sixth to extend his season-long hitting streak to 12 games and scored twice while reaching base three times.

The Reds left nine runners on base, giving them 32 for the weekend, and went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position to finish the series 6-of-35.

"The only thing we can take out of this weekend is trying to forget it," catcher Paul Bako said.

Game notes
A steady rain fell much of the game until skies cleared in the eighth inning. ... Pirates 1B Adam LaRoche was scratched about an hour before game time with flulike symptoms. ... In an oddity, Cueto drew his first major league walk as a batter in the third -- before he issued one. ... Bay is a .363 career hitter against the Reds with 20 homers and 66 RBIs in 259 at-bats.