Reds will try to slow down Bucs

Published 2:03 am Tuesday, June 17, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A day off has been the only thing to slow Pittsburgh Pirates star Andrew McCutchen as he rides one of the hottest two-week stretches of his career.

McCutchen looks to become the fifth player in franchise history to record nine straight multi-hit games, while Cincinnati ace Johnny Cueto will try to extend his run of success against the Pirates on Tuesday night.

McCutchen continued his torrid stretch with two more hits in Sunday’s 3-2, 10-inning loss at Miami that snapped a four-game winning streak.

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The All-Star outfielder has a .444 average with six home runs and 16 RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak. He has a chance to become the first Pittsburgh player to have nine consecutive multi-hit games since Rennie Stennett in 1971.

The last player overall to have nine straight multi-hit efforts was then-Yankee Robinson Cano from Sept. 25-Oct. 3, 2012.

McCutchen will try to reach that mark in the opener of this three-game set at PNC Park. He’s 13 for 26 with three homers and four RBIs against the Reds (33-35) this season, though Cincinnati has won five of the first seven matchups.

The reigning NL MVP is 3 for 7 with a home run and a double against Cueto (6-5, 1.85 ERA) in 2014.

After allowing four runs and eight hits over 3 1/3 innings of a 6-2 loss at Pittsburgh in the 2013 NL wild card game, Cueto gave up just one run and six hits over 18 innings to win two April outings against the Pirates.

The right-hander is 15-4 with a 2.15 ERA in 23 career regular-season starts versus Pittsburgh (34-35), including a 9-2 record and 1.81 mark in 14 outings at PNC Park.

Cueto also ranks near the top of the majors in ERA and strikeouts (109) after limiting the Los Angeles Dodgers to three hits with a season high-tying 12 strikeouts over six innings in Wednesday’s 5-0 home win.

“He’s at the top of the list for me as far as National League starters,” manager Bryan Price told the team’s official website. “Maybe I’m biased because I see all of his starts. What he’s doing is special.”

Cueto will get his first look at Gregory Polanco, who went 9 for 17 with a home run and four RBIs in the three-game series in Miami. He’s the first Pirates player to get a hit in each of his first six games since Roberto Clemente in 1955.

The Pirates could use a long outing from right-hander Brandon Cumpton (2-2, 6.06) after their bullpen surrendered 11 earned runs in 9 2/3 innings against the Marlins.

“I don’t think it’s any one particular thing that has tripped up any of our guys,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “You have to look at each game.”

Cumpton is 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA in three career starts against the Reds after allowing two runs and four hits over a season-high seven innings in a 2-1 home loss April 24.

Cincinnati will try to build on its best offensive performance after recording season highs in runs and hits (19) in Sunday’s 13-4 victory at Milwaukee.

Billy Hamilton led off with a home run and Todd Frazier added his team-high 15th homer as the Reds took two of three from the first-place Brewers. Hamilton has gone 5 for 9 with two homers and three RBIs in his last two games.

Devin Mesoraco, who added three hits to raise his average to .305, is 8 for 19 with a homer and five RBIs versus Pittsburgh.