CHC@CIN: Cingrani exits his start early with injury

PITTSBURGH -- The Reds had hoped that left-handed pitcher Tony Cingrani and his sore back would be able to meet the club on Friday for the final three games of the road trip.

However, Cingrani remained in Cincinnati. Progress has been slow, as attempts to throw have not gone well.

"It's progressed, but I didn't want it to get worse just to come here," Reds head trainer Paul Lessard said on Friday. "He's tried to go off a mound, but it's still tender. That's why we didn't want to continue to keep going off a mound."

Cingrani hasn't pitched since exiting his last start Sept. 10 vs. the Cubs with back spasms. He also missed two starts on the disabled list in August because of a lower back strain.

The rehab program will continue in Cincinnati.

"We didn't want him to take a puddle jumper [flight] out here just for him to hang out here and be here," Lessard said. "I'd rather him stay there and keep working on it."

In his rookie season, Cingrani is 7-4 with a 2.92 ERA in 23 games, including 18 starts where he filled in for the injured Johnny Cueto. With Cueto just back from the DL after missing 2 1/2 months with a strained right lat, it could be tough for the Reds to carry two pitchers with iffy injury situations. Cueto looked good during his start of five scoreless innings vs. the Astros on Monday.

Cingrani's status will be evaluated next week, when the Reds are back home for the final week of the regular season.

"We would like to have him, but life goes on," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

Ludwick playing his way through hitting slump

CIN@PIT: Reds jump ahead early on Ludwick's RBI knock

PITTSBURGH -- After getting into a groove a few games upon his return from a four-month stint on the disabled list, Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick has fallen into a rut lately.

Ludwick, who had surgery in April to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, entered Friday batting .200 (10-for-50) for September and 3-for-21 on the current road trip. He was in Friday's lineup, batting fourth against Pirates starter Francisco Liriano.

Reds manager Dusty Baker wasn't surprised that Ludwick has been in a funk.

"Joey [Votto] was in a rut for a long time. Jay Bruce was in a rut for a long time. Name me somebody on the team that has not fallen into a rut," Baker said. "The only way to get out of a rut is to play. You can't sit your way out of a rut. We need Ludwick. We need him bad. We needed him before he got back here.

"We just don't want him to worry about it. We don't need you all to overemphasize it, because he's the kind of guy to put a lot of pressure on himself anyway, sometimes unnecessarily."

Ludwick promptly rewarded his manager's decision in Friday's game, delivering an RBI single in his first at-bat against the Pirates, snapping an 0-for-15 drought.

Baker not concerned about HBP factor in critical series

PIT@CIN: Choo gets hit by pitch, remains in the game

PITTSBURGH -- As the Pirates returned to contender status this season and have battled the Reds for the National League Central all season, a high volume of hit-by-pitches have added spice to the rivalry.

The two teams play each other six times of their final nine games and are vying for either a division title or home-field advantage in the NL Wild Card game. Reds manager Dusty Baker wasn't concerned that hit batsmen would play into the strategy of either team.

"I haven't even thought about it," Baker said on Friday. "I don't have time to think about it. The first time I thought about it is right now, I swear. Both clubs pitch inside. A lot of the hitters don't know how to get out of the way of the pitch, so therefore you've got hit batsmen. Sometimes, it's the batter's fault."

Reds and Pirates batters have been hit by a pitch a combined 22 times in 2013, the third-most between two teams this season. Five Reds batters have been hit 11 times by eight different Pirates pitchers, including Shin-Soo Choo's six plunkings.

"I blame the hitters as much as I blame the pitchers," Baker said. "A lot of these guys on all teams are comfortable now. Anything close is intentional, which is crazy."