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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, August 3rd (All times Eastern)

Pittsburgh Pirates (60-44) at Cincinnati Reds (64-41), 7:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - Wandy Rodriguez (7-9, 3.82) Cincinnati - Mat Latos (9-3, 4.17)

(Sports Network) - The Cincinnati Reds eye a 14th win in 15 tries this evening when they begin an important three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park.

Cincinnati enters this matchup holding a 3 1/2-game edge on the Pirates in the National League Central, thanks in part to a 14-3 stretch since July 16. Amazingly that same run has coincided with star first baseman Joey Votto being placed on the disabled list.

Pittsburgh, though, has been just as impressive, posting an 11-5 mark in that stretch. At 60-44, the Pirates, of course, are aiming for their first winning season since 1992. But, that may not be enough, as they hold the top spot in the National League Wild Card race.

Both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati haven't been in the postseason together since 1990 when the Reds beat the Bucs on their way to a World Series title.

"We know when we go in there this week, it's time to win," Pirates reliever Jared Hughes said. "There's no other option. We're going in there, and we're winning."

Cincinnati improved to 17-3 since the All-Star break on Thursday, as Todd Frazier hit a two-run home run and knocked in three to help the Reds get past San Diego, 9-4, in the finale of a four-game set.

Jay Bruce totaled two hits and two RBI, while Scott Rolen added three hits and drove in one for the Reds, who took three of four in the series and have won 13 of 14 overall.

Johnny Cueto (14-5) allowed eight hits and four runs with nine strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings for the win. The 26-year-old right-hander served up his first homers since May 25 and allowed more than one long ball for the first time since 2010.

Getting the call for the Reds tonight will be righty Mat Latos, who has won his last two starts. Latos held the Colorado Rockies to a pair of runs and four hits in eight innings on Sunday to run his record to 9-3, while lowering his ERA to 4.17.

Latos tossed six scoreless innings and struck out 11 to beat the Pirates the last time he faced them and is 3-0 in four starts against them with a 2.16 ERA.

The Pirates, meanwhile, won the final two games of their three-game set with the Chicago Cubs, taking Wednesday's finale, 8-4.

Andrew McCutchen had two hits and three runs scored, while Starling Marte added a solo shot for the Pirates, who have won six of their last eight games.

Jeff Karstens (4-2) surrendered a run on three hits and a walk in five innings.

"Karstens gave us what we needed off the mound," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He threw almost 50 pitches in the first two innings, which is what I think sapped him a little bit. We put it together out of the bullpen and found a way to stay tight and scored a few more than them late."

Tonight, the Bucs turn to one of their new acquisitions in left-hander Wandy Rodriguez.

Rodriguez did not get a decision in his debut on Saturday against his former club, as the Houston Astros reached him for three runs and six hits in six innings. He also walked five batters in the 4-3 win.

"I thought he was probably excited to get out there and pitch," manager Clint Hurdle said. "I have never seen him walk five in a game all of the years I have watched him pitch. I'm sure he had some emotion or adrenaline.''

The 33-year-old Rodriguez, who is 7-9 on the year with a 3.82 ERA, lost to the Reds two starts ago and is just 8-10 lifetime against them with a 4.42 ERA in 26 starts.

Pittsburgh is 5-4 versus the Reds this season.

Following this weekend's series, the Pirates and Reds will play six more times in the regular season. There's a three-game series in Cincinnati scheduled for Sept. 10-12 and a three-game set in Pittsburgh on Sept. 28-30.

08/03 11:07:25 ET

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