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Sun, Jun 2, 2013 - 1:35 PM ET
 

Reds-Pirates Preview

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The Cincinnati Reds' starters have dominated this series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Mat Latos could very well continue that trend Sunday.

Cincinnati goes for an eighth straight victory with the right-hander on the mound and its first road sweep in this NL Central series in three seasons.

After Johnny Cueto's eight strong innings helped the Reds (35-21) limit the Pirates (34-22) to a season-low one hit in Friday's 6-0 victory, Mike Leake followed with six of his own in Saturday's 2-0 win that moved Cincinnati one game up on Pittsburgh for second place in the Central behind St. Louis.

The Reds have won 14 of 19 away from home.

The Pirates, meanwhile, are trying to regroup after getting blanked at home in consecutive games for the first time since May 22 and 24, 2011. They had won a season-best six straight and 10 of 11 at PNC Park heading into this series.

"Opportunities were out there but we couldn't get anything going," said manager Clint Hurdle, whose team has one run and no extra-base hits in its last three at home.

Facing Latos (5-0, 3.01 ERA) may not help the Pirates find their hitting stroke or prevent the Reds from their first sweep at Pittsburgh since May 10-12, 2010. He walked a season-high four in Tuesday's 8-2 victory over Cleveland, but finished allowing one hit in 6 1-3 innings.

"The last two starts, everything has felt good,'' Latos said. "My mechanics have been in sync with my arm feeling great."

He's 4-0 with a 2.40 ERA in seven starts after yielding three runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 10-7 loss at Pittsburgh on April 14 that finished a three-game sweep by the Bucs.

The Pirates haven't been swept at home since Sept. 18-20 against Milwaukee, and Jeanmar Gomez (2-0, 2.30) will try to keep it that way.

The converted reliever has four consecutive no-decisions, yet his last outing was his best since being inserted into the rotation May 1. Gomez went a career high-tying seven innings in Tuesday's 1-0, 11-inning road win over Detroit, holding one of the majors' best hitting teams to three singles.

"Every one of my pitches was working, so I was working ahead in the count and down in the zone," he said. "That's what made it good.''

The right-hander, 1-0 with a 2.15 ERA in six starts, threw 2 1-3 innings of shutout relief April 14.

Gomez's only start versus Cincinnati was a 7-1 road loss June 12 when he walked four with two runs allowed in five innings.

He may have caught a break with Brandon Phillips out Sunday. The second baseman, the Reds' leader with eight hits, three homers and eight RBIs against Pittsburgh this season, left Saturday's game in the eighth inning with a bruised left forearm after being hit by a pitch from Tony Watson. X-rays were negative.

"I'm still having a hard time closing my hand but I'm very thankful it wasn't broken and that I won't be out for very long," Phillips said.

Alex Presley struck out with runners on first and second to end Saturday's contest, but he may have earned himself more playing time with a career high-tying three hits Saturday in place of Starling Marte.

Travis Snider and Neil Walker, a combined 1 for 13 in this series, each had two hits off Latos on April 14. Snider had a pair of doubles.

Pittsburgh hasn't dropped three straight at home since a 2-1 victory over the Reds on Sept. 29 ended a season-worst seven-game skid.

Tagged: Reds, Pirates, Mat Latos, Jeanmar Gomez

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