Taillon, Pirates host Reds

The last time Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon faced the Cincinnati Reds, only a third-inning single by the opposing pitcher prevented him from throwing a no-hitter.

The Pirates probably don’t need Taillon to be nearly that good when they face the Reds on Tuesday in the first game of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park, but they are hoping he can be a streak stopper.

The Pirates had won eight of nine after beating the San Diego Padres on Thursday in the first game of a four-game series at PNC Park, but they dropped the next three games to fall out of first place in the National League Central. They’ve lost four of their last seven.

Taillon (2-3), who has a 1.98 ERA in 13 2/3 innings this month, won’t be taking on Tyler Mahle this time — Mahle’s single represented the Reds’ only hit when they lost to the Pirates 1-0 on April 8 as Taillon struck out seven and walked two.

But Taillon will match up against a familiar face in newly acquired Reds right-hander Matt Harvey, the former New York Mets ace who is being eased into the Cincinnati rotation. Harvey lasted four innings in each of his first two starts with Cincinnati, and the Reds won both games.

Harvey didn’t allow a run in his first Reds start against the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 11, then gave up three runs and seven hits in four innings of what became a 6-3 Cincinnati victory over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, I came out after the fourth … I took a peek at how many pitches (77) I had,” Harvey said. “It had creeped up pretty good. Other than that, I was pretty happy the way I finished.”

The Reds could use some more innings from Harvey this time, especially after losing three of four to the Chicago Cubs last weekend and five of seven overall since winning six in a row — a run that included a four-game sweep of the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

“As the (Giants) game went on, he had some 1-2 counts where they got hits and you’ve got to put them away when you’ve got two strikes on them,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “It just wasn’t there.”

Taillon dealt with a lacerated finger during his last start but still pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing two solo home runs, during a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.

“After my warmups, it wasn’t even a thought the rest of the day,” Taillon said.

Harvey is 1-1 with a 5.46 ERA and six homers allowed in 28 innings in five career starts against the Pirates but will be seeing new Pittsburg center fielder Austin Meadows for the first time. The 23-year-old Meadows, one of the Pirates’ top prospects, made his major league debut last weekend against San Diego and went 5-for-11 (.455) with one homer and two RBIs.

“A lot of emotions, running around the bases and hearing the fans cheer,” Meadows said of hitting his first career homer Sunday. “It was a special moment.”

Meadows might want to get some tips about facing Harvey from Josh Harrison, who is 5-for-8 (.625) against him with two RBIs. Josh Bell is 3-for-6 (.500) with a homer, but Jordy Mercer is 0-for-8 (.000) and Gregory Polanco is 2-for-9 (.222).

Taillon is 2-2 with a 4.23 ERA in eight career starts against the Reds, giving up 47 hits in 44 2/3 innings. Jose Peraza (8-for-13, .615), Scooter Gennett (8-for-22, .364) and Billy Hamilton (7-of-20, .350, 2 homers, 6 RBIs) hit him well, but Joey Votto (3-for-19, .158), Eugenio Suarez (2-for-15, .133) and Scott Schebler (1-for-13, .077) do not. Adam Duvall is 6-for-22 (.273) with two homers and four RBIs.

The Pirates are 11-11 on the road and the Reds have lost 18 of 25 at home. The Pirates took three of four from the Reds on April 5-8 at PNC Park.