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Yankees eye sweep of visiting Reds

(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Yankees seek a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds when the clubs conclude their set Sunday in the Bronx.

The Yankees have won two straight at home after losing the previous five games as the host and posted a 7-1 win Saturday behind a strong start from newcomer Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy made his home debut by tossing six innings of one- run ball with nine strikeouts and no walks.

"He's got the ability to do what he did tonight every fifth day, I truly believe that," Yankees catcher Brian McCann said of McCarthy. "I think his stuff's always been there. What I saw today and from his first start, he's got it."

McCarthy, acquired in a trade from Arizona, scattered six hits and pitched New York to its third win in four tries overall. Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley and Matt Thornton kept the Reds off the board in relief.

Carlos Beltran homered, Brett Gardner knocked in three runs and Kelly Johnson ended 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI for the Yankees.

The Yankees, owners of a 21-6 mark when leading after the first inning, are still four games off the lead in the AL East and will host Texas for four games next on this 10-game homestand (2-0).

With the majority of New York's rotation on the infirmary list, Hiroki Kuroda is anointed the ace of the staff. Kuroda gets the call Sunday and is 6-6 with a 4.10 earned run average. He is 2-1 in his last three decisions and did not factor in the outcome of a 3-2 loss at Baltimore on July 11.

Kuroda limited the rival Orioles to a pair of runs and three hits in seven innings, but it wasn't enough to lead the Yankees to victory. Kuroda is 3-3 in nine starts in the Bronx this season and 3-2 with a 2.61 ERA in five career starts against the Reds.

The Reds are 2 1/2 games off the top spot in the NL Central and have lost four of six games since winning five straight. All-Star Todd Frazier had two of the Reds' seven hits and Chris Heisey homered on Saturday.

"We really did struggle to put the ball in play and really just to create anything offensively," said Reds manager Bryan Price. "We fell behind early and really didn't ourselves back in the game at any point."

Reds starting pitcher Alfredo Simon was aiming for his 13th win of the season, but was dealt the loss after he surrendered four runs (2 earned) in five innings. He struck out four and walked one. J.J. Hoover permitted three runs in relief of Simon, who dropped to 12-4 on the season.

Cincinnati has now lost five in a row on the road, including Friday's opener of this Bronx series, and will visit Milwaukee next for three games.

Johnny Cueto draws the start for the Reds Sunday and has won two straight starts and five of his last six decisions. He earned his 10th win of the season (10-6, 2.13 ERA) in last Sunday's 6-3 victory over Pittsburgh and gave up three runs in six innings with seven strikeouts and two walks.

Cueto has pitched at least six innings in each of his previous seven outings. The right-hander has a 3-3 mark in nine road starts this season and will make his fourth career start against the Yankees, going 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA over the first three.

Cincinnati is 6-1 in his last seven trips to the mound.

The Reds won two of three at Yankee Stadium when these teams last faced each other in 2012. The Yankees are 7-7 all-time versus Cincinnati in interleague play.

07/20 09:19:10 ET

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