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W:J.Hughes(1-0) L:J.Hoover(1-2)
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National League Preview from The Sports Network

Monday, April 21st (All times eastern)

Cincinnati Reds (8-10) at Pittsburgh Pirates (8-11), 7:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Cincinnati - Mike Leake (2-1, 2.95) Pittsburgh - Francisco Liriano (0-3, 3.96)

( - The surging Cincinnati Reds pay a visit to PNC Park Monday night to begin a four-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pittsburgh beat the Reds in last year's wild card game. These teams met up last week in Cincinnati, where the Reds won two of three. In the first game of that set, Pittsburgh claimed an 8-7 win after the teams combined for a Great American Ballpark-record 10 home runs. The game also took two days to finish because of rain.

"That's the only experience I've had with that," Reds right fielder Jay Bruce said of the game. "I've actually finished one game the next day before, but nothing in that fashion. Nothing with all the home runs and the rain was just -- it was a weird game."

Cincinnati has won four of its last five games overall after Sunday's 8-2 triumph over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Zack Cozart homered and accounted for one of the Reds' five doubles for the game, while starter Homer Bailey tossed six shutout innings and fanned eight batters.

Meanwhile, the Pirates have dropped eight of their last 10. They suffered a 3-2 loss to Milwaukee in 14 innings on Sunday thanks largely to a 1-of-6 effort with runners in scoring position. Andrew McCutchen carried an eight- game hitting streak into Sunday but went 0-for-6 at the plate.

Outfielder Travis Snider was ejected following a third-inning melee between the teams.

"You're not going to get any badges of honor for what happened," manager Clint Hurdle said of the incident. "You just try to move on after it happens and win the game. As far as galvanizing, all this does is provide tangible evidence to anybody who didn't think we were galvanized."

Looking to move on, the Pirates will turn to Francisco Liriano, who beat Cincinnati in last year's wild card game but has posted a 5.21 ERA in his last three starts, all losses. He gave up three runs over seven innings of a 4-0 loss to the Reds on Wednesday.

For Cincinnati, Mike Leake takes the hill and will try for a repeat of Tuesday's start against the Bucs, in which he yielded three runs in 6 2/3 innings and tied a career high with eight strikeouts. Cincinnati won that game, 7-5. Leake has won four straight starts against Pittsburgh and is 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA this season.

In fact, Cincinnati's starters have posted a 0.98 ERA over the team's last four wins.

"Our pitching's been great this year. All year, pretty much," Bruce said. "We've started clicking on kind of all cylinders and scoring some runs, and getting back on track."

04/21 10:36:08 ET

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