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National League Preview from The Sports Network

Tuesday, May 29th (All times Eastern)

Cincinnati Reds (27-21) at Pittsburgh Pirates (24-24), 7:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Cincinnati - Homer Bailey (3-3, 4.19) Pittsburgh - Charlie Morton (2-5, 4.27)

(Sports Network) - The Cincinnati Reds turn to Texas-born right-hander Homer Bailey to keep them in first place tonight when they visit PNC Park for the second of three games with the host Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Reds, who entered Monday with a 1 1/2-game lead over St. Louis in the National League's Central Division, had that margin trimmed to just a half- game after they dropped a 4-1 decision in the series opener.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals opened a three-game series in Atlanta with an 8-2 win.

The Pirates, who sit in third place and trail the Reds by three games, saw James McDonald (4-2) toss eight scoreless innings and allow just five hits and a walk while fanning five.

Tony Watson allowed a run in the ninth, but Joel Hanrahan came on to get the final out to nail down his 12th save of the season.

Pedro Alvarez went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and two runs scored, while Neil Walker, Garrett Jones and Rod Barajas had an RBI apiece for Pittsburgh, which won for the fourth consecutive time.

Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo (2-3) allowed four runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out one hitter over just four innings.

Chris Heisey knocked in the only run of the day for the Reds.

Bailey, who turned 26 earlier this month, is 5-0 in seven career meetings with the Pirates while posting a stingy 1.94 earned run average across 46 1/3 innings.

He's allowed 10 runs on 37 hits with 40 strikeouts overall, but hasn't actually beaten Pittsburgh since going the full nine-inning route while allowing four hits and striking out six in a 5-0 triumph on May 12, 2010.

In 2012, Bailey opened the season with consecutive losses to St. Louis and Washington, but has rebounded to win three of four decisions - including verdicts over the New York Yankees and Atlanta in his last two starts.

In those games, the former first-round draft pick - seventh overall, 2004 - gave up five runs on 11 hits in 12 1/3 innings.

Pittsburgh counters with righty Charlie Morton, who meets the Reds for the second time this season and 12th time in 89 big-league outings.

Cincinnati reached him for four earned runs on seven hits in six innings of a 5-0 victory on May 6 in Pittsburgh and has beaten him five times in nine decisions while posting a composite .274 batting average.

Morton has won once and lost twice in three starts since the loss to the Reds, combining to surrender 24 hits and nine runs in 19 innings against Houston (win), Detroit (loss) and the New York Mets (loss).

He's 2-3 in five 2012 starts at PNC Park with a 3.99 ERA.

Cincinnati took two of three from the Bucs earlier this month.

05/29 10:38:49 ET