Reds-Pirates Preview

The Associated Press

Billy Hamilton is on a tear, the Cincinnati Reds are surging and it's coming at the expense of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The speedy center fielder and the Reds look to continue their recent dominance of the Pirates and record the team's longest winning streak in Pittsburgh in over two decades Wednesday.

Hamilton is 11 for 19 with three doubles, two homers and six RBIs in the last four of a six-game road trip which ends Wednesday. He's a big reason why the Reds (35-35) have a .308 average while winning six of seven overall.

Brandon Phillips has four straight multihit games, Todd Frazier has three homers and nine RBIs in the last six and the Reds have a chance to go over .500 for the first time all season.

"Offensively, with the way we're swinging the bat right now," Devin Mesoraco told the team's official website, "with Billy really getting on base here in the past couple of games, Joey (Votto) and Jay Bruce back healthy, Brandon doing his thing, Todd Frazier really swinging it, I think we can really string some wins together."

They've won seven of eight on the road and against the Pirates (34-37), including five straight at PNC Park after a seven-run third inning led to an 11-4 victory Wednesday. Cincinnati hasn't won six in a row in Pittsburgh since 1992-93 and hasn't done it in a single season since 1986.

Hamilton has three hits in each of the first two games of this series, stealing three bases in Tuesday's 6-5 win and driving in three runs Wednesday. He's hitting .433 with eight steals and eight runs in eight career games at Pittsburgh.

Homer Bailey (7-3, 4.68 ERA) hasn't done as well against the Pirates lately. He's 0-3 with a 5.14 ERA in five matchups since tossing the first of his two career no-hitters Sept. 28, 2012, at Pittsburgh. The right-hander was tagged for a career-high four homers while giving up five runs in five innings and not getting a decision in an 8-7 home loss to the Pirates on April 14.

Despite his recent struggles against them, Bailey is 5-1 with a 1.60 ERA in seven career starts at Pittsburgh with three complete games.

He enters this meeting with a 4-0 record and 3.51 ERA in his last five starts overall. Bailey was headed for a fifth straight win Friday, allowing one run through six innings before giving up three more and leaving with one out in the seventh while not getting a decision in a 6-5 victory over Milwaukee.

The Pirates are trying to snap a three-game slide, and are again turning to Jeff Locke (0-1, 3.98) in place of injured right-hander Gerrit Cole (shoulder). Locke has been impressive in two starts since returning from the minors but has an 0-1 record thanks to his teammates.

The bullpen let Locke down in Friday's 8-6, 13-inning defeat at Miami, where he allowed two runs in a career-high eight innings. Five days earlier, the offense didn't help as he gave up a run in seven innings of a 1-0 loss to Milwaukee.

Locke, who went 2-6 with a 5.56 ERA in 15 starts last year after making the NL All-Star team, felt encouraged by his latest performance.

"It's huge," Locke said. "Anytime you give this team a chance to win, it makes you feel good. That's what I've always tried to do through the struggles and the successes. It builds a lot of confidence moving forward."

He had been 2-0 with a 1.19 ERA in four career starts against the Reds before getting hammered the last time he faced them. Locke was pulled after giving up five runs in the first inning of an 11-3 home loss Sept. 22.

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