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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, June 5th (All times Eastern)

Pittsburgh Pirates (27-26) at Cincinnati Reds (30-23), 7:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - A.J. Burnett (4-2, 3.60) Cincinnati - Homer Bailey (4-3, 3.73)

(Sports Network) - The Cincinnati Reds host the NL Central-rival Pittsburgh Pirates tonight in the opener of a three-game set at Great American Ball Park.

The Reds, who lead the National League Central Division by three games over the Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals, will start Texas-born righty Homer Bailey, who's not lost to the Pirates in eight career starts.

The 26-year-old went the full nine innings against Pittsburgh in his most recent start on May 29 at PNC Park, allowing just four hits and striking out five batters in a 4-1 triumph -- his first complete game of the season and second in his career.

The previous one was also against Pittsburgh at PNC Park on May 12, 2010, when he allowed four hits and struck out six in a 5-0 triumph.

In 55 1/3 overall innings against the Pirates, Bailey has allowed just 41 hits and 11 runs while striking out 45 and holding Pittsburgh batters to a .210 average.

He began 2012 with just one win in seven starts, but has since won three straight, defeating the New York Yankees, Atlanta and the Pirates while allowing 15 hits and six runs in 21 1/3 innings.

Pittsburgh starts veteran righty A.J. Burnett, a first-year Pirate who went seven innings and gave up an unearned run on two hits while defeating the Reds, 2-1, on May 30.

The win was his third in eight lifetime meetings with Cincinnati, which has hit .253 against him while scoring 28 runs on 46 hits in 47 2/3 innings.

The victory was also Burnett's third straight since a 1-2 performance in his initial five starts.

He carried a 5.12 ERA into a May 19 interleague matchup at Detroit, but has since beaten the Tigers, the Chicago Cubs and the Reds while giving up 15 hits and three runs in 18 1/3 innings.

In three road starts this spring, Burnett is 1-2.

On Sunday in Milwaukee, Andrew McCutchen clubbed the go-ahead two-run homer during a three-run fifth inning and the Pirates slipped past the Brewers, 6-5, in the finale of a three-game set at Miller Park.

Clint Barmes delivered a solo home run and added an RBI single, while Rod Barajas and Garrett Jones had solo shots for the Pirates, winners in three of their last four contests.

James McDonald (5-2) contributed a base hit offensively and was solid on the mound, allowing three runs - one earned - on four hits and one walk to go with eight strikeouts over six innings to collect the win. Joel Hanrahan allowed a solo homer in the ninth, but settled down to record his 14th save.

"You never know what's going to happen when they say 'Play ball,' but I've been around long enough to know that can happen," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "It's good to get a series win here, but I'm not going to be dancing in the streets."

In Houston, Justin Maxwell hit a pinch-hit two-run homer while Jason Castro and Marwin Gonzalez each had two hits and an RBI to lead the Astros to a 5-3 win over the Reds in the finale of a three-game set at Minute Maid Park.

Zack Cozart hit a two-run homer and Joey Votto drove in a run for the Reds, who completed a six-game road trip with a 3-3 record.

Bronson Arroyo (2-4) was pegged with the loss after giving up five runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings.

These two clubs have split six meetings so far this season.

06/05 10:41:01 ET