The last time Homer Bailey faced the Pittsburgh Pirates, he accomplished something no Cincinnati Reds pitcher had done in 24 years.
Owner of the majors' most recent no-hitter, Bailey faces the visiting Pirates on Thursday for the first time since he made history against them last season.
In 2012, the seven-year veteran set a career high with 13 wins, recorded his lowest ERA at 3.68 and allowed one hit in seven innings of a 2-1, 10-inning Game 3 loss to San Francisco in the NL division series. However, his career highlight came Sept. 28 at Pittsburgh as he struck out 10 and walked one during a 1-0 victory to record the majors' seventh no-hitter of the season.
Bailey (4-5, 3.80 ERA) became the first Cincinnati pitcher since Tom Browning on Sept. 16, 1988, to throw one.
"He didn't give in at all," Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen said after that contest.
Three of Bailey's four career complete games and his most wins against any team have come versus Pittsburgh (42-30). The right-hander is 8-2 in 12 starts against the Pirates with a 2.51 ERA - his best versus any NL team.
Bailey, however, has been inconsistent in 2013.
He gave up three earned runs and 10 hits in 15 innings to go 1-0 in his first two June starts, then allowed six runs and eight hits over seven frames of a 6-0 loss to Milwaukee on Saturday.
"I made a couple of mistakes that they hit for singles down the line, but I made some really good pitches that they put into play," Bailey said. "It wasn't like they were banging balls off the walls."
He'll try to help Cincinnati (44-29) win this four-game set after it rallied for a 2-1, 13-inning victory Wednesday. Jay Bruce halted Jason Grilli's save streak at 25 games with a homer in the ninth, and Brandon Phillips delivered a game-winning single with the bases loaded.
"You feel horrible because the bullpen has been working a lot and we had to go extras and work harder," Grilli said after his first blown save of 2013. "You lose a tough ballgame in an important series."
All of Bruce's three hits in his last 17 at-bats have left the park.
Phillips' winner was his second hit in 21 at-bats. He's hitting .179 in 13 games since being hit on the left forearm with a pitch at Pittsburgh on June 1.
"I haven't been feeling right and I was doing things I don't normally do," he said. "I felt a little better (Wednesday)."
McCutchen is batting .345 (10 for 29) against Bailey but is 2 for 17 in the last four games. He's 4 for 24 in his last six versus Cincinnati.
Pittsburgh right-hander Brandon Cumpton (0-0, 5.40) gets a second start after he gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings of a 5-3, 11-inning loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in his major league debut Saturday.
"He gave us everything he had," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He did a very professional job."