Just his luck: Wins elusive for Harang
Reds starter's winless streak at five games; bats fizzling
CINCINNATI -- If the Reds' starting lineup approaches a blackjack table where pitcher Aaron Harang is playing, he should leave the casino.Harang has had the equivalent of eight "coolers" behind him when it comes to offensive support this month. He has three quality starts and one good one stopped by a long rain delay.
Worst of all, Harang has no wins. His winless streak extended to five starts after the Reds dropped a 4-1 game to the White Sox on Sunday to lose two of three in the series. Cincinnati finished its six-game homestand 3-3 and fell back to a 34-34 record that put it four games behind first-place St. Louis in the National League Central."Luck hasn't gone my way this year," said Harang, who pitched seven innings and allowed three earned runs and eight hits with no walks and seven strikeouts. "I have to find some other type of horseshoe to get things going. I obviously have the rain horseshoe in my back pocket." Over his last four starts, Harang has allowed six runs over 24 2/3 innings for a 2.19 ERA. Overall, he is 5-7 with a 3.66 ERA in 15 starts. Harang isn't the only pitcher reeling from no run support. The Reds are batting .199 (27-for-136) with runners in scoring position in their last 17 games. In the last 12 games, they've been held to two runs or fewer five times. Reds manager Dusty Baker wore a scowl of displeasure on his face that couldn't be erased, especially after the Reds were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left seven stranded. "That's been a repetitive story," Baker said. "We're trying to find a way to get some hits when they count and drive in some runs. Aaron pitched well enough to win today. I've gone over this many times. We have to produce some runs." In the top of the first, the White Sox first five batters notched four hits -- none of them hit particularly hard. Runners were on first and second when A.J. Pierzynski rolled an RBI base hit through the middle. A Paul Konerko double play on the ground to shortstop scored Alexei Ramirez and made it 2-0. Harang gave up a solid leadoff double to Gordon Beckham in the second, but his other three hits allowed were either bloopers or infield hits. Leading off, Podsednik beat out a grounder to third base for a single and scored from second base on Konerko's chopper behind second base that skipped off the tip of Brandon Phillips' glove. "There's nothing I can do about it," Harang said. "I go out and make pitches and you're going to give up your little check-swing hits, your broken-bat hits and guys hitting it off the end of the bat or jamming themselves. The game is a lot about luck." White Sox ace Mark Buehrle kept Reds hitters mostly quiet over seven scoreless innings. Buehrle (7-2) ended his own five-game winless streak as he gave up five hits and one walk with five strikeouts. Cincinnati's best chance against Buehrle came in the second inning, when Jonny Gomes hit a leadoff double and reached third base with one out. After Jay Bruce walked, no one could get Gomes in as Ryan Hanigan flied out to right field and Adam Rosales popped out to the shortstop. "Here we are in late June and we're still doing the same things we did in April and May," Baker said. "It seems like we're not learning anything. I'm frustrated, big time. The guys are frustrated, too." Buehrle was out and reliever Scott Linebrink was in when the Reds scored their lone run in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Chris Dickerson singled up the middle, stole second base and went to third on a wild pitch. Dickerson scored on Phillips' sacrifice fly to right field. Gomes was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with one out, but the inning ended when Ramon Hernandez lined out to the shortstop and Jerry Hairston Jr. was caught off second base for the double play. "We have guys in here that know they can play but might be pressing and trying to do too much," Hairston said. "It happens to rookies and to 10-year veteran guys. It's just the nature of this game. Hopefully, we will keep scrapping and fighting and we'll get healthy and really make a run." Harang would love for it to happen when he's on the mound. On June 4 at St. Louis, he worked a complete-game loss vs. Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, who dealt a three-hitter. Harang pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings at Washington on June 10, but the save was blown before the Reds won in extra innings. In his previous start on Tuesday, he had two scoreless innings vs. the Braves but couldn't continue after a 2 1/2-hour rain delay. "Last year, I was putting way too much pressure on myself and trying to go out and feel like I had to carry a lot of weight on my shoulders," Harang said. "This year, I'm just trying to keep us in the game and see how deep I can go. If we win, we win. If we lose, we lose."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.