Reds-Pirates Preview

The Associated Press

After hitting plenty of homers on a homestand, the Cincinnati Reds could find it difficult to go deep against a pitcher who has been keeping the ball in the stadium of late.

Pittsburgh Pirates starter James McDonald hasn't allowed a homer over his last 33 2-3 innings heading into Monday's opener of a three-game set against the first-place Reds.

Cincinnati (27-20) has won eight of nine, completing a 6-1 homestand in which it homered 17 times with Sunday's 7-5 victory over Colorado. Four Reds homered Sunday in a game that featured a record nine longballs at Great American Ball Park.

"The ball was flying out today," manager Dusty Baker told the Reds' official website. "That's too many home runs for them. I'll take all of ours."

McDonald (3-2, 2.51 ERA), however, figures to be stingy since he has yielded one run in five of his last seven outings. That includes a May 5 effort in which he limited the Reds to one run over 6 1-3 innings while striking out seven to earn a 3-2 victory, improving to 2-0 with a 1.90 ERA in four career home starts against them.

McDonald has struck out at least seven in six straight starts to tie Bob Veale's 1965 club record.

Several key Reds hitters have good numbers against the right-hander, with Brandon Phillips 6 for 15, Jay Bruce 5 for 13 with a homer and Joey Votto 6 for 19 with one home run.

All three of those hitters homered Sunday along with Todd Frazier for Cincinnati. Phillips went 9 for 23 with three homers and eight RBIs during the homestand while Votto was 11 for 24 with four walks and four runs scored.

Bruce, who sat out Friday's 6-3 loss after striking out 16 times during a 1-for-29 slump, has extra-base hits in consecutive games since returning to the lineup.

"To get momentum like that at home is always good," Bruce said. "Winning the series is key. That's what you hope for."

Drew Stubbs was the hitting star for the Reds when they took two of three in Pittsburgh (23-24) earlier this month, going 6 for 12 with two homers. The Pirates were outhomered 5-2 in that series.

Pittsburgh had not hit a three-run homer until Pedro Alvarez had one in the first inning Sunday in a 10-4 win over the Cubs. Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones also went deep for the Pirates, seeking their first four-game win streak of 2012.

"I was well aware of the fact we didn't have (a three-run homer)," manager Clint Hurdle said. "They make the offensive game pick up dramatically when you can get three runs in one swipe."

Several Pirates could face a challenge Monday against Bronson Arroyo (2-2, 3.22). McCutchen is 1 for 16 against him, Rod Barajas is 0 for 11 and Jones is 4 for 16.

The right-hander went 0-2 with a 8.18 ERA in two 2011 starts against Pittsburgh, although he is 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA in his last four outings at PNC Park.

Arroyo yielded one run over 6 2-3 innings Wednesday and did not get a decision in a 2-1 win over Atlanta.

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