After three consecutive subpar starts, Ryan Dempster welcomes the arrival of the Brewers, against whom he has enjoyed incredible success throughout his career.
Dempster owns a 13-3 record against the Brew Crew with a 2.69 ERA. He is 2-0 vs. Milwaukee this season and has held Corey Hart to 1-for-23 lifetime, but he settled for a no-decision in an error-plagued loss in their last meeting.
"We have to win no matter who we're playing against," Dempster said. "The more this season keeps getting later and later, the more losses pile up. We have to win more games, that's the bottom line."
The Brewers counter with lefty Manny Parra, who is 0-1 in four appearances against the Cubs with a 5.84 ERA. He has only one quality outing in his last six starts.
The Cubs are batting .302 against lefties in their last 10 games and should be plenty motivated after Monday's embarrassing 18-1 defeat.
Despite taking a no-decision in his last outing, Reds righty Johnny Cueto remains one of the hottest and most underrated pitchers in baseball with a 4-0 record and 1.55 ERA over his last seven starts.
Cueto is 2-0 against the Pirates this season and 8-2 for his career, carrying an even 3.00 ERA. He brings a 15-inning scoreless streak against the Bucs into this one, including a complete-game shutout on May 11.
"We appreciate what he's done and we appreciate the progress he's made," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "A lot of people are thinking he should be further ahead than he is now, but we don't. We think he's right on course to being an outstanding pitcher."
Pittsburgh answers with righthander Jeff Karstens, who is 0-3 lifetime against the Reds with a 6.45 ERA. He lasted just 2 1/3 innings in his last start vs. Cincy and the Bucs' bullpen is a question mark after trading away closer Octavio Dotel and another reliever.
The Reds are batting a solid .294 against righties in their last 10 games to the Pirates' .225. With Cincy seeking the NL Central crown and the Bucs battling for the basement, look for the Reds to batter the Bucs.