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National League Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, June 17th (All times Eastern)
Pittsburgh Pirates (41-28) at Cincinnati Reds (42-28), 7:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - Francisco Liriano (5-2, 2.36) Cincinnati - Mike Leake (6-3, 2.76)
(Sports Network) - Two teams battling for second place in the National League's Central Division - the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates - get together on Monday night at Great American Ball Park to begin a four-game series.
The Reds enter the series with a half-game lead on the Pirates, 2 1/2 games in back of the first-place St. Louis Cardinals.
Cincinnati won two of three games with Pittsburgh last week at PNC Park, while the Pirates swept a three-game series there earlier in the season.
The Reds will start right-hander Mike Leake, who tossed six scoreless innings against the Pirates in a 2-0 victory in Pittsburgh on June 1. In that game, the California native allowed seven hits, walked one and struck out five while improving to 3-3 in 13 career starts against the Pirates.
He's split two starts since - against St. Louis and the Chicago Cubs - while allowing four runs on nine hits in 13 innings.
Leake is 1-2 in six home starts this season and the Reds are 7-3 in his last 10 outings overall.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, goes with resurgent Dominican lefty Francisco Liriano, who faces the Reds and Leake for the second time.
The former Minnesota Twin allowed four hits and a run and struck out 11 batters while dropping the hard-luck June 1 verdict in his initial career meeting with Cincinnati.
He was a two-time double-digit winner with the Twins, but won just nine games in 2011 and six last season while splitting time with Minnesota and the Chicago White Sox.
In two starts since last facing the Reds, the 29-year-old won both while allowing four runs on 10 hits in 13 innings.
On Sunday in Pittsburgh, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run home run and the Pirates defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-3, in the rubber match of a three- game series at PNC Park.
Garrett Jones drove in two runs and Alex Presley went 3-for-4 with a solo home run for the Pirates. Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole (2-0), making his second career start, allowed three runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings.
Jason Grilli pitched a scoreless ninth to notch his 25th save. In Cincinnati, Donald Lutz came through with a two-run single to back six solid innings from Johnny Cueto, as the Reds downed Milwaukee, 5-1, in the rubber match of a three-game series.
Jay Bruce homered and Brandon Phillips drove in a run for the Reds, who have won five of their last seven overall.
Activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to the contest, Cueto (4-0) scattered five hits and one run while striking out three. He also aided his cause with a second-inning squeeze bunt that plated a run.
06/17 10:31:53 ET