The Pittsburgh Pirates (60-46) and Cincinnati Reds (66-41) will close out a three-game National League Central series on Sunday afternoon at the Great American Ball Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:10 ET

Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds  

The Cincinnati Reds look to sweep the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday afternoon

Pittsburgh is now 5.5 games behind Cincinnati in the divisional standings, suffering a hard-fought 5-4 setback on Saturday night.  “You got two teams battling for the top spot, in a close race,” commented Pirates Josh Harrison.  The Pirates have gone 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position in dropping the first two games of this series, as they look to avoid another collapse in August.  The franchise is 17-45 over the course of this month since the 2010 campaign.

Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (13-3, 3.27 ERA) has won his last three outings, including a 5-0 road shutout of the Chicago Cubs last time out, surrendering just a single hit and striking out eight batters.  The right-hander is 6-3 with a 4.79 ERA in nine road outings, with opposing hitters batting .257 against him.  In nine career games versus the Reds, Burnett has tallied a 4-3 record and 4.96 ERA, including an 8-4 win at this ballpark on June 5.

Cincinnati has won 22 of its past 25 games and has given fans plenty to cheer about in selling out this venue the last two nights.  The Reds are now focused on earning their fourth sweep of a division rival this season.  If the club gets a ninth-inning lead, it’s likely going to hold up, as closer Aroldis Chapman has notched 13 consecutive saves by striking out 24 batters in 12.1 innings.  Cincinnati is 13-4 when playing on Sunday this year, with the “under” going 9-7 in that situation.

Reds starting pitcher Homer Bailey (9-6, 3.85 ERA) has led the club to six consecutive victories, but is coming off one of his worst efforts of the year, allowing six runs and nine hits over 3.2 frames against the San Diego Padres.  The right-hander is 3-4 with a 5.17 ERA in 11 home outings, serving up 14 home runs in 62.2 combined innings.  In nine career games versus the Pirates, Bailey has compiled a 6-1 record and 2.62 ERA.

Sports bettors will likely back the Reds due to their 8-1 record in Bailey’s last nine starts in this series, while the Pirates are 3-9 as road underdogs of +100 to +125 this season.

Pick:  Cincinnati Reds -110

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