Reds at Pirates
September 30, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
The National League playoffs begin on Tuesday night with a pair of NL Central rivals looking to take on division champ St. Louis in the NLDS. The Pirates swept the Reds at the Great American Ballpark this past weekend to grab home-field advantage in Tuesday's play-in game, winning all three games as an underdog. Now, Pittsburgh is listed in the favorite role.
The Pirates won 11 of 19 meetings with the Reds this season, including a 5-4 mark at PNC Park. Following a three-game home sweep in early April, the Reds grabbed four of the next six meetings, including two of three in late September. One of those losses almost cost the Pirates a home game in the Wild Card contest, as the Reds rallied from a 5-2 deficit in the ninth inning to win, 6-5 in 10 innings on September 20.
Francisco Liriano started that Friday night meltdown for the Pirates, as the southpaw allowed three hits and two earned runs in eight innings of work. Unfortunately, closer Mark Melancon couldn't shut the door by giving up three hits and three runs in the ninth inning, while recording just two outs. Joey Votto broke a 5-5 tie in the 10th inning with a solo home run, as Liriano received a no-decision in the one-run defeat.
The Pirates will send out Liriano on Tuesday night, as Pittsburgh lost all four of his starts against Cincinnati this season. The Bucs won nine of Liriano's 11 starts at PNC Park, with the only two defeats coming to the Reds in late September and in early June.
The Reds look to put last season's NLDS meltdown against the Giants behind them on Tuesday as Johnny Cueto takes the mound. Cueto threw nine pitches in the NLDS opener last October before leaving the start due to back spasms. The right-hander has made just two starts since suffering a strained right lat muscle in June, as the Reds beat the Astros and Mets in his last two outings. In Cueto's lone start at PNC Park earlier this season, the righty tossed eight scoreless innings of one-hit ball in a 6-0 shutout of the Pirates.
Cincinnati finished slightly above .500 on the road at 41-40, while winning seven of their last 10 games in the role of an away underdog. Pittsburgh put together a solid 50-31 record at PNC Park, but won just eight of their final 18 games as a home favorite.
First pitch is at 8:05 PM from Pittsburgh and can be seen on TBS.
Other Postseason Notes:
-- As the Cardinals wait for the Pittsburgh/Cincinnati winner, Los Angeles will travel to Atlanta for the other NLDS. The Dodgers opened up as a $1.45 road favorite as Clayton Kershaw takes the mound, while Kris Medlen counters for the Braves. Atlanta won five of seven meetings against Los Angeles this season, including a three-game sweep at Turner Field. The series begins in Atlanta on Thursday night at 8:35 PM with coverage on TBS.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.
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