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Major League Baseball
Preview
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh
When: 7:05 PM ET, Friday, August 29, 2014
Where: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


The Pittsburgh Pirates have spent the last week gaining ground on the two teams they trail in the National League Central. The Pirates look to stymie the dwindling playoff hopes of the team directly behind them starting on Friday when they host the first of three games against the Cincinnati Reds. Pittsburgh fell behind NL Central leader Milwaukee by as many as seven games on Aug. 19, but shaved three games off that deficit following series wins against the Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals.

The Pirates have won five of seven overall and hope to ride that momentum against the Reds, who have taken nine of the 13 meetings and won each of the four series between the division rivals this season. Cincinnati is 4-1 over its last five following a seven-game skid and appears to have found its groove offensively, scoring seven runs in back-to-back wins after totaling that many runs over the previous five games combined. The Reds’ recent surge hasn’t allowed them to make much of a dent in the standings, however, as they are 8 1/2 games off the pace in the Central and 6 1/2 games back in the wild-card race.

TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network, FSN Ohio (Cincinnati), ROOT (Pittsburgh)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds RH Mike Leake (10-11, 3.51 ERA) vs. Pirates RH Edinson Volquez (11-7, 3.56)

Leake did a little bit of everything in stopping the Reds’ seven-game losing streak on Saturday as he doubled and scored the game’s only run in a victory over Atlanta. The No. 8 overall pick in the 2009 draft, who has more hits (67) than any pitcher in the majors since his debut in 2010, allowed only two hits and three walks over 6 2/3 innings in the outing. Leake is 1-0 despite a 5.03 ERA in three turns against the Pirates this season, but has enjoyed a fair amount of success in 18 career starts against them while going 6-3 with a 3.53 ERA.

Although he gave up a season-high 11 hits and two walks over 5 2/3 innings, Volquez held Milwaukee to two runs en route to his seventh win in eight decisions on Saturday. During his six-start unbeaten streak, the 2008 All-Star has yielded three earned runs or fewer each time and needs only one more victory to post the second-highest single-season win total of his career. Volquez, who played for Cincinnati from 2008-11, has posted a 9.64 ERA in losing both of his turns versus the Reds this season and is 1-2 with a 5.88 ERA in five all-time starts against them.

WALK-OFFS

1. Pittsburgh CF Andrew McCutchen, who has faced Leake more than any other hitter in baseball (13-for-48), is batting .412 with six homers in 13 games against the Reds this season.

2. Cincinnati is only 3-9 versus St. Louis, but a combined 27-15 against the rest of the NL Central.

3. Reds CF Billy Hamilton needs three stolen bases to tie Bob Bescher’s 105-year-old club record of 54 steals by a rookie.

PREDICTION: Reds 6, Pirates 4


Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Cincinnati 65-69 W2 36-32 29-37 13-16 30-24 16-18 6-11
Pittsburgh 69-64 W2 42-27 27-37 15-11 26-32 20-12 8-9
Last Meeting
Cincinnati Pittsburgh
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
7/13/14 PIT 3 CIN 6 .273 2 .990 .152 1 .556
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Cincinnati B. Hamilton .373 19 .862
Pittsburgh A. McCutchen .412 21 1.402
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Cincinnati T. Frazier 5 12 12
Pittsburgh A. McCutchen 6 13 8
Pitching ERA Avg K
Cincinnati 3.63 .286 119
Pittsburgh 5.03 .233 84
Season
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Cincinnati T. Frazier .280 140 .798
Pittsburgh A. McCutchen .307 136 .940
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Cincinnati T. Frazier 22 72 69
Pittsburgh A. McCutchen 20 69 71
Pitching ERA Avg K
Cincinnati 3.52 .241 1090
Pittsburgh 3.73 .257 968