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Pittsburgh Pirates (92-68) at Cincinnati Reds (90-70)
Saturday, September 28 - 1:05 PM EST
Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio
The Pittsburgh Pirates will earn the right to host Tuesday's National League wild card game with a win over the host Cincinnati Reds on Saturday. The Pirates took a two-game lead over the Reds with Friday's 4-1 triumph as Cincinnati must win the final two contests if it is to claim the top wild card spot by virtue of a 10-9 season series victory. A.J. Burnett pitched eight solid innings Friday and would likely get the ball in Game 1 of an NL Division Series on Thursday if Pittsburgh wins Tuesday.
With three hits and two RBIs on Friday, Marlon Byrd is hitting .301 with 15 RBIs in 29 games since being acquired at the trade deadline while Pedro Alvarez set a club record for third basemen with his 35th home run. Joey Votto went 2-for-4 on Friday and has reached base 312 times this season, breaking Pete Rose's club record set in 1969, but Cincinnati has lost three straight and scored one run in its last 22 innings. Pittsburgh's Charlie Morton pitched two complete games and allowed one run in his last three starts at Great American Ball Park and will oppose Bronson Arroyo, who defeated the Pirates in his last outing.
TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, Fox
PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates RH Charlie Morton (7-4, 3.14 ERA) vs. Reds RH Bronson Arroyo (14-11, 3.60 ERA)
Morton allowed three hits over seven shutout innings against the Cubs in Chicago on Monday, but the bullpen let him down in a 2-1 loss. The 29-year-old has earned no-decisions in his last three starts and is winless in his last four, but was 4-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his previous six outings. Morton is 5-6 with a 3.97 ERA in 13 starts against the Reds and shut them out while allowing three hits in 5 1/3 innings of a 4-0 victory in Cincinnati on June 18.
Arroyo yielded three runs and five hits in five innings of an 11-3 victory on Sunday to improve to 7-7 with a 3.78 ERA in 17 starts against the Pirates. The 36-year-old snapped a four-start winless streak (0-1), although he recorded three quality starts during that span. Arroyo, who needs 2 2/3 innings to reach 200 for the eighth time in his last nine seasons (he registered 199 in 2011), has dominated Andrew McCutchen (1-for-26).
1. Fourteen of the 17 meetings this season have been decided by three runs or less.
2. The Reds and Pirates have hit each other with pitches a major league-high 26 times. The Red Sox and Yankees are second with 25.
3. The Pirates have allowed the second-fewest runs in the major leagues with 572. The last time Pittsburgh yielded less than 600 was in 1992 - the last time it made the postseason.
PREDICTION: Reds 3, Pirates 2