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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, August 5th (All times eastern)

Pittsburgh Pirates (60-46) at Cincinnati Reds (66-41), 1:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - A.J. Burnett (13-3, 3.27) Cincinnati - Homer Bailey (9-6, 3.85)

(Sports Network) - The Pirates have fallen 5 1/2 games behind the first-place Reds in the NL Central, but with A.J. Burnett on the mound today, Pittsburgh will have a great opportunity to salvage the finale of this weekend's three- game series.

Burnett has won three straight decisions and 12 of his last 13, including an awesome showing on Tuesday at Wrigley Field. He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and finished with a one-hit shutout in a 5-0 final. He tossed his first shutout of the year and 10th of his career.

Burnett has won both of his starts against the Reds this season and is 4-3 in nine starts versus Cincinnati in his career.

The Reds, winners in 22 of their last 25 contests, counter with Homer Bailey on the mound as he makes his 100th career start. The right-hander also has a victory streak, going 4-0 over his last six starts. Bailey was knocked around for nine hits and six runs over just 3 2/3 innings on Tuesday in a no-decision against San Diego, but the Reds won, 7-6.

Bailey has a 6-1 mark with a 2.62 ERA in nine career games against the Pirates. That includes a complete game four-hitter in an 8-1 win at Pittsburgh on May 29 this year. He was battered, though, for eight hits and six runs in his next start against the Bucs, a loss on June 5.

Last night, Scott Rolen tripled and scored in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Reds to a 5-4 triumph. Todd Frazier's RBI groundout brought home Rolen, who also knocked in a pair of runs, as the Reds earned their fifth straight win and their 15th victory in 16 games.

Jonathan Broxton (1-0) earned the win with a scoreless inning of relief while Aroldis Chapman stranded the tying run on second base in the ninth to secure his 25th save of the year.

Jared Hughes (2-1) allowed the deciding run for the Pirates, who have lost four of their last six to fall further back behind the Reds for the top spot in the NL Central.

Michael McKenry and Josh Harrison each hit solo home runs in defeat.

"Both sides played tough. It was like a playoff atmosphere here," Reds manger Dusty Baker said.

The Pirates are 0-2 in a stretch that has them scheduled to play 20 games in 20 consecutive days leading up to their next scheduled day off on Thursday, Aug. 23.

"We're not going to quit. We're going to keep showing up," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "This is a part of the season that is fun and challenging. You don't like the end result at the end of the night, but you know that just has to push you farther to do a little bit better."

Cincinnati leads the season series, 6-5. 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.

08/05 11:20:12 ET

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