Final

Series: Game 3 of 4

Cincinnati leads 2-1 (as of 4/23)

Game 1: Monday, April 21
Cincinnati5Final
Pittsburgh6
Game 2: Tuesday, April 22
Cincinnati4Final
Pittsburgh1
Game 3: Wednesday, April 23
Cincinnati5Final
Pittsburgh2
Game 4: Thursday, April 24
Cincinnati2Final
Pittsburgh1

Reds 5

(10-11, 6-6 away)

Pirates 2

(9-13, 6-7 home)

    Coverage:  ROOT

    7:05 PM ET, April 23, 2014

    PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

    123456789 R H E
    CIN 010030010 5 6 1
    PIT 101000000 2 6 4

    W: A. Simon (3-1)

    L: C. Morton (0-3)

    S: J. Broxton (3)

    Reds-Pirates Preview

    STATS LLC

    Although his place in the rotation was once considered temporary, Alfredo Simon has made a convincing case to stay long-term by continuing to string together outstanding performances.

    The right-hander can match his victory total as a starter from his previous six seasons Wednesday night, seeking his third win in four starts as the Cincinnati Reds visit the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    Simon (2-1, 0.86 ERA) made 99 relief appearances without a big-league start over the past two years and won just three of his 19 starts in his first four seasons. However, he earned a spot as the fifth starter heading into 2014 with Mat Latos recovering from elbow and knee injuries.

    While it's uncertain when Latos will return, the Reds (9-11) aren't likely to be in a hurry to move Simon back to the bullpen. He has been one of the NL's top starters early on, giving up one run and going at least six innings in each of his three outings.

    Simon, among the league leaders in ERA and opponent batting average (.178), allowed an unearned run and four hits over six-plus innings in a 4-1 road win over the Cubs on Friday.

    "I think it was a good idea that we brought him into camp to start in case we had an injury or didn't have the depth," manager Bryan Price said. "And our good fortune is that he came in ready to go and had a great spring and is off to a good start."

    With Simon leading the way, Cincinnati starters have a 2.75 ERA that ranks among the best marks in the majors. The rotation has been particularly effective during the team's current 5-2 stretch, posting a 2.03 ERA while limiting opponents to a .189 average.

    Johnny Cueto delivered the latest gem with a three-hitter in Tuesday's 4-1 win that evened this four-game series with the Pirates (9-12) at one apiece.

    Simon has pitched well in Pittsburgh with a 1.54 ERA over seven relief appearances, including 1 1/3 scoreless innings in the Pirates' 6-2 win in last season's NL wild-card game.

    Travis Snider is 5 for 11 lifetime when facing Simon and could be in the lineup again while he appeals a two-game suspension for his role in Sunday's brawl with Milwaukee. Russell Martin, also expected to challenge his one-game suspension, is hitless in seven career at-bats against Simon and 0 for 6 in this series.

    Andrew McCutchen has gone 5 for 6 with two home runs in the two games, leaving him 12 for 24 with three homers over a six-game hitting streak versus Cincinnati.

    The Pirates, who have dropped nine of 12, are hoping starter Charlie Morton (0-2, 4.32) can get on track after giving up 14 runs over 19 innings in his last three outings. He allowed five runs over six frames in a 5-3 home loss to Milwaukee on Friday.

    "I'd throw these pitches and be like, 'Where the heck did that come from?'" the right-hander said. "Those are just total misfires out of nowhere. Even some of the strikes I was throwing (were) just misses."

    Morton hasn't had much success of late against the Reds, going 1-2 with a 5.03 ERA in his last four starts.

    Todd Frazier is 5 for 9 against Morton since 2011, while Jay Bruce is 4 for 9 the past two seasons. Frazier is 6 for 11 in his last three games overall and Bruce has gone 8 for 17 over his last four with one RBI in each.

    The Reds have averaged 6.1 runs with a .309 batting average in their last nine games.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Gameday Matchup

     CincinnatiPittsburgh
    W-L72-8484-71
    Night41-6162-42
    Grass72-8482-70
    Current StreakW1W1
    Last 103-78-2

    Pitching Matchup

    CincinnatiPittsburgh
    A. Simon
    15-10, 3.34 ERA

    Last Game:
    9/15 at CHC
    7.0 IP, 0 ER
    Dec = ND
    C. Morton
    6-12, 3.72 ERA

    Last Game:
    9/16 vs BOS
    5.0 IP, 0 ER
    Dec = Win

    Gameday Lineups

    NO.CincinnatiPittsburgh
    1. B. Hamilton, CF S. Marte, LF
    2. J. Votto, 1B N. Walker, 2B
    3. B. Phillips, 2B A. McCutchen, CF
    4. J. Bruce, RF P. Alvarez, 3B
    5. T. Frazier, 3B I. Davis, 1B
    6. R. Bernadina, LF T. Snider, RF
    7. D. Mesoraco, C J. Mercer, SS
    8. R. Santiago, SS C. Stewart, C
    9. A. Simon, P C. Morton, P

    Research Notes

    Joey Votto has hit .337 in at-bats that end on a pitch in the inner third of the zone or further inside from a righty since the start of last season, the fourth-highest average among qualified left-handed hitters during that time. Charlie Morton has thrown 39 percent of his pitches to lefties in that zone this season, the fourth-highest rate among qualified righties.

    ESPN Stats & Information