Owner of the majors' most recent no-hitter, Bailey faces the visiting Pirates on Thursday for the first time since he made history against them last season.
In 2012, the seven-year veteran set a career high with 13 wins, recorded his lowest ERA at 3.68 and allowed one hit in seven innings of a 2-1, 10-inning Game 3 loss to San Francisco in the NL division series. However, his career highlight came Sept. 28 at Pittsburgh as he struck out 10 and walked one during a 1-0 victory to record the majors' seventh no-hitter of the season.
Bailey (4-5, 3.80 ERA) became the first Cincinnati pitcher since Tom Browning on Sept. 16, 1988, to throw one.
"He didn't give in at all," Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen said after that contest.
Three of Bailey's four career complete games and his most wins against any team have come versus Pittsburgh (42-30). The right-hander is 8-2 in 12 starts against the Pirates with a 2.51 ERA - his best versus any NL team.
Bailey, however, has been inconsistent in 2013.
He gave up three earned runs and 10 hits in 15 innings to go 1-0 in his first two June starts, then allowed six runs and eight hits over seven frames of a 6-0 loss to Milwaukee on Saturday.
"I made a couple of mistakes that they hit for singles down the line, but I made some really good pitches that they put into play," Bailey said. "It wasn't like they were banging balls off the walls."
He'll try to help Cincinnati (44-29) win this four-game set after it rallied for a 2-1, 13-inning victory Wednesday. Jay Bruce halted Jason Grilli 's save streak at 25 games with a homer in the ninth, and Brandon Phillips delivered a game-winning single with the bases loaded.
"You feel horrible because the bullpen has been working a lot and we had to go extras and work harder," Grilli said after his first blown save of 2013. "You lose a tough ballgame in an important series."
All of Bruce's three hits in his last 17 at-bats have left the park.
Phillips' winner was his second hit in 21 at-bats. He's hitting .179 in 13 games since being hit on the left forearm with a pitch at Pittsburgh on June 1.
"I haven't been feeling right and I was doing things I don't normally do," he said. "I felt a little better (Wednesday)."
McCutchen is batting .345 (10 for 29) against Bailey but is 2 for 17 in the last four games. He's 4 for 24 in his last six versus Cincinnati.
Pittsburgh right-hander Brandon Cumpton (0-0, 5.40) gets a second start after he gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings of a 5-3, 11-inning loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in his major league debut Saturday.
"He gave us everything he had," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He did a very professional job."
|June 09, 2013||A.J. Burnett||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|June 06, 2013||Jared Hughes||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 06, 2013||Wandy Rodriguez||15-Day DL||Left forearm tightness|
|June 03, 2013||Phil Irwin||60-Day DL||Right arm fatigue|
|June 03, 2013||Jeanmar Gomez||15-Day DL||Right forearm tightness|
|May 28, 2013||Jose Contreras||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|June 14, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor mass strain|
|June 01, 2013||Johnny Cueto||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|June 01, 2013||Johnny Cueto||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|May 21, 2013||Sean Marshall||15-Day DL||Sprained left shoulder|
|April 28, 2013||Chris Heisey||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|April 27, 2013||Chris Heisey||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained hamstring|
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Pedro Alvarez hasn't changed anything in June, except those RBI numbers. They're way up there, just like the Pirates.
Alvarez drove in all of Pittsburgh's runs with a solo homer, bases-loaded double and a single on Thursday for a 5-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds and a split of their high-profile NL Central series.
The Pirates remain a half-game behind second-place Cincinnati after the four-game set, keeping them virtually shoulder-to-shoulder as they chase the torrid St. Louis Cardinals.
After blowing a one-run lead in the ninth and losing 2-1 in 13 innings on Wednesday night, Pittsburgh salvaged a game behind Alvarez and a bullpen running on fumes.
"We needed a big day from a number of people today and Pedro was one of them," manager Clint Hurdle said. "There was no bigger swing than with the bases loaded, left-on-left. Beautiful."
Alvarez had an RBI single and his 16th homer off Homer Bailey , who couldn't follow his no-hitter against Pittsburgh with a win. After Alfredo Simon (5-3) loaded the bases in the seventh, Alvarez doubled off left-hander Tony Cingrani to snap a 2-all tie.
The five RBIs were a season high for a Pirate and one shy of Alvarez's career high. The third baseman has been Pittsburgh's top run producer in June, leading the team with 48 RBIs overall.
It's quite a change. Alvarez .180 in April and .225 in May before finding his form. He has six homers in June, second-most in the NL.
"I just think it's repetition and getting the opportunity to go out and try to gain as much experience as I can from every day out there," Alvarez said.
Bryan Morris (4-2) contributed to the go-ahead rally with his first career single. He also pitched two innings, allowing one run. Left-hander Tony Watson pitched the last two innings for his second save in three chances.
The Pirates lead the season series 6-4, holding their own early in the season despite a rotation that's sapped by injuries and a lineup that strikes out a lot and wastes chances. Under the circumstances, the way the series ended was satisfying.
"We don't expect anything less," Morris said. "It's good to not lose any ground. Definitely would have loved to have three out of four in the series, but we're not complaining about the split, especially after the hard game last night."
Jay Bruce hit another solo homer, his third of the series and his fifth in seven games. His ninth-inning shot off Jason Grilli led the way to the draining 13-inning win on Wednesday night.
The teams combined for seven homers in the series, all solo shots. Cincinnati hit four in a 4-1 win that opened it.
Brandon Cumpton made his second major league start for Pittsburgh, giving up two runs - one earned - in five innings.
Bailey faced the Pirates for the first time since his no-hitter at PNC Park last September and left after six innings with the score tied at 2. He gave up six hits, throwing 113 pitches. Bailey is 8-2 career against Pittsburgh.
"They've definitely made strides over the past couple of years, but it's early," Bailey said. "They have a good club but the past couple of years, they've fallen into the pattern of fading, so we'll see. It's a long season."
Alvarez's throwing error helped the Reds get an unearned run in the first. Shin-Shoo Choo reached on Alvarez's team-high 13th error, stole second and came around on Joey Votto 's single.
Another batter got hit, extending a prominent theme to the Ohio River rivals' series this season. At least one batter has been plunked in each of the 10 games, with 19 hit overall. Pirate pitchers have hit 10, Reds pitchers 9, leaving some simmering unhappiness on both sides.
Choo has been hit six times, Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen three times each, Brandon Phillips twice, and five others one time apiece.
NOTES: The official scorer changed a call from Wednesday night game. Russell Martin 's grounder off Bronson Arroyo 's glove was originally ruled an error, leaving the Pirates' lone run unearned. It was changed to a hit. ... The Pirates added to their depleted bullpen by calling up RH Duke Welker from Triple-A and optioning OF Alex Presley . ... A day after actor James Gandolfini died, Reds 3B and New Jersey native Todd Frazier replaced his Frank Sinatra at-bat music with the theme from "The Sopranos." ... Pittsburgh struck out 8, 17, 10 and 12 times in the four games. ... The Pirates head to the West Coast to play three against the Angels and two in Seattle. The Reds have an eight-game trip to Arizona, Oakland and Texas.
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