Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds (-130, 9)
The Cincinnati Reds seek to expand their lead on the Pittsburgh Pirates for the second straight night when the two National League Central contenders meet in Saturday’s second contest of a three-game set. The host Reds won the opener of the series to move 4.5 games ahead of the Pirates and are sitting at 24 games over .500, the franchise’s best record since 1999. Cincinnati has won 14 of its last 15 games.
Pirates starter James McDonald defeated the Reds twice in May, giving up one run in 6 1/3 innings the first time and hurling eight shutout innings on the second occasion. Pittsburgh is 5-3 on a 10-game road trip that concludes Sunday. Cincinnati expects second baseman Brandon Phillips to return to the lineup after missing three straight games with a calf injury. The Reds are 15-3 since losing All-Star first baseman Joey Votto to a knee injury.TV:
7:10 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), Fox Sports Ohio (Chicago)PITCHING MATCHUP:
Pirates RH James McDonald (10-5, 3.38 ERA) vs. Reds RH Mike Leake (4-7, 4.44)
McDonald has lost back-to-back starts after a stretch in which he won five straight decisions. He allowed five runs in five innings while losing to the Houston Astros and has given up 20 earned runs in 20 2/3 innings over his last four outings. McDonald walked a season-high seven against Houston. He is 5-1 with a 2.31 ERA in 10 career appearances (seven starts) against Cincinnati.
Leake has allowed 13 runs in 15 innings over his last three starts after being roughed up by the San Diego Padres in his last outing. He lasted just 1 2/3 innings and gave up five runs in the loss to the Padres. Leake is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts against Pittsburgh this season. He is 1-3 with a 3.16 ERA in eight career starts against the Pirates.TRENDS:
* Over is 6-2-1 in the last nine meetings in Cincinnati.
* Pirates are 6-2 in the last eight meetings in Cincinnati.
* Under is 3-1-2 in McDonalds last six starts vs. Reds.
* Reds are 2-6 in Leakes last eight starts vs. Pirates.UMP TRENDS - Brian Gorman
* Under is 4-0 in Gormans last four games behind home plate.
* Reds are 16-5 in their last 21 games with Gorman behind home plate.
* Under is 4-1-1 in Gormans last six games behind home plate vs. Pittsburgh.WALK-OFFS
1. Pittsburgh scored 37 runs on the first seven games of its road trip before being blanked on four hits in the opener.
2. Reds OF Drew Stubbs is just 2-for-14 with seven strikeouts against McDonald.
3. Pirates 2B Neil Walker is batting .368 with a homer and four doubles in 19 career at-bats against Leake.