Reds look to snap Pirates’ streak

Published 2:09 am Tuesday, June 23, 2015

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Johnny Cueto may be the last pitcher the Pittsburgh Pirates want to see after a listless weekend at the plate.

The Pirates have the benefit of countering with Jeff Locke, who will try to help the pitching staff maintain some impressive runs at home.

Cueto has captured his last seven regular-season decisions against the Pirates as he tries to help the Cincinnati Reds snap Pittsburgh’s six-game home winning streak Tuesday night.

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Pittsburgh (39-30) entered the weekend riding an eight-game win streak before it was swept at Washington. The Pirates are eager to start this three-game set after totaling three runs and batting .152 with 28 strikeouts.

“We had a tough series,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We get to go home and unpack our bags. We love to play at home and we love our fan base. We look forward to that.”

The Pirates last won seven in a row at home April 27-May 12, 2008. They have not allowed a run at PNC Park in 30 innings, the longest such streak since a 33-inning stretch June 27-July 14, 2001.

Pittsburgh has a tough task against Cueto (4-4, 2.98 ERA), who has more victories over the Pirates than any active pitcher with an 18-4 mark and a 2.13 ERA in 28 regular-season starts. He is 7-0 with a 1.58 ERA in his last 11 regular-season matchups, including seven scoreless innings of four-hit ball and 10 strikeouts in a 5-2 victory on opening day in which he did not get a decision.

Cincinnati (32-36) has won Cueto’s last eight regular-season starts against the Pirates but he lost 6-2 at Pittsburgh in the 2013 NL wild-card game.

Many Pirates have fared poorly against Cueto. Starling Marte is 1 for 23 with eight strikeouts in the regular season, Neil Walker is 9 for 48, Pedro Alvarez is 6 for 33 and Jose Tabata is hitless in 12 at-bats.

Josh Harrison is 7 for 21 with a homer and three doubles in this matchup and Andrew McCutchen bats .290 against Cueto.

The right-hander allowed three runs in 5 1-3 innings in Wednesday’s 8-4, 13-inning win over Detroit, giving him a 5.11 ERA in his last two outings.

Locke (4-3, 4.74) has pitched 16 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings at home. He struck out eight and allowed two runs in six innings of a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.

The left-hander yielded four runs over seven in a 7-1 home loss to the Reds on May 5 to drop to 2-2 with a 3.14 ERA in eight starts against them.

Todd Frazier is 8 for 18 with two homers against Locke, Marlon Byrd is 4 for 10 with two home runs and Billy Hamilton is 5 for 11.

Frazier is 9 for 24 with four homers and six RBIs in the season series, with the Reds winning five of six. He has gone deep five times with nine RBIs in a 4-1 stretch for Cincinnati, including a two-run homer in Sunday’s 5-2 win over Miami.

“I know we celebrate the home runs but I just like the fact that he gives us good at-bats, he’s not expanding the zone early and does a nice job when he gets a good pitch to hit,” manager Bryan Price said.

Jay Bruce, who is 3 for 18 off Locke, is 10 for 20 with two homers in the last five games.