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Preview: Pirates at Reds

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Homer Bailey made history the last time he faced the Pittsburgh Pirates. This time, he is simply hoping to give his team a series win. Bailey and the Cincinnati Reds host the Pirates on Thursday afternoon in the finale of a four-game series. It is the right-hander's first start against his National League Central rivals since he tossed a no-hitter at Pittsburgh on Sept. 28, 2012.

The Reds have taken two of the first three games in the series after a 2-1 win in extra innings Wednesday night. Brandon Phillips hit an RBI single in the 13th inning to end the game. The Pirates had recorded 17 straight scoreless innings before Jay Bruce homered in the ninth to force extras and set up Phillips' heroics.

TV: 12:35 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), Fox Sports Ohio (Cincinnati)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates RH Brandon Cumpton (0-0, 5.40 ERA) vs. Reds RH Homer Bailey (4-5, 3.80)

Cumpton's first career start came Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and it began in spectacular fashion. The 24-year-old struck out five of the first six men he faced and did not allow a hit until the fourth inning. Cumpton was eventually charged with three runs in five-plus innings in a game that went 11 innings. Thursday's contest will be his first career road start.

Bailey is one of the staff stalwarts but has been very inconsistent of late. He followed an abysmal start in Cleveland at the end of May with two solid outings before Milwaukee reached him for six runs in seven frames on Saturday. Including his gem near the end of last season, Bailey is 8-2 with a 2.51 ERA in 12 career starts versus Pittsburgh.

WALK-OFFS

1. Pirates 3B Pedro Alvarez is 0-for-9 with five strikeouts against Bailey.

2. Bruce has four home runs in his last six games.

3. Pittsburgh entered Wednesday with the lowest average in the National League with runners in scoring position. It was 0-for-8 in the extra-inning loss and left 14 runners on base.

PREDICTION: Reds 5, Pirates 3

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