Reds begin series in Pittsburgh

Veteran right-hander Bronson Arroyo makes his 15th career start against the team that drafted him when the Cincinnati Reds visit the Pittsburgh Pirates to begin a three-game series today at PNC Park.

Arroyo, a 35-year-old from Key West, Fla., was just 18 when selected in the third round by the Pirates back in 1995.

He reached the majors with Pittsburgh in 2000 and made 53 appearances with the Pirates across three seasons - winning nine of 23 decisions - before he was signed off waivers by the Boston Red Sox in February 2003.

The 6-foot-4, 196-pounder stayed in Boston for three seasons and earned a 2004 World Series ring before he headed to Cincinnati in a trade for outfielder Wily Mo Pena in March 2006.

In six subsequent seasons with the Reds, he's won double-digit games five times, including a career-best 17-10 record in 2010.

Arroyo has been effective, if not always lucky, through his initial nine starts in 2012, splitting four decisions while allowing three earned runs or less in six starts and pitching at least six innings seven times.

He allowed a run on four hits in 6 2/3 innings of his last start against Atlanta on May 23, but got only a no-decision in a game the Reds won, 2-1.

In 14 career starts against Pittsburgh, Arroyo is 6-6.

For the Pirates, righty James McDonald faces the Reds for the second time this month.

The 27-year-old, who's 4-1 against Cincinnati in nine career appearances, beat the Reds, 3-2, on May 5 in Pittsburgh with 6 1/3 innings of six-hit, one-run ball with seven strikeouts.

It was the seventh straight start in which McDonald allowed three runs or less, a stretch he's prolonged to nine in a row with a subsequent win at Washington and no-decision against the New York Mets.

His earned run average for the season - 2.51 - is 1.7 runs better than his mark over 171 innings last year and 1.29 better than his career number though 369 major-league innings.

Even better, he has a 1.57 ERA in five home starts this season.

On Sunday in Cincinnati, Brandon Phillips hit a three-run homer while Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier each added solo shots to help the Reds outslug the Rockies, 7-5, in the finale of a three-game set at Great American Ball Park.

Zack Cozart had an RBI double for Cincinnati, which has won eight of its last nine and leads the National League's Central Division by 1 1/2 games over St. Louis.

Mat Latos (4-2) allowed five solo home runs over 7 1/3 innings but still earned the win. Aroldis Chapman stranded two in the eighth and walked one in the ninth before retiring the side to pick up his third save of the year. Chapman has appeared in a franchise-record 21 games this season without surrendering a run.

In Pittsburgh, Pedro Alvarez hit a three-run homer and had four RBI as the Pirates completed a three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs with a 10-4 victory. Garrett Jones hit a two-run homer and Andrew McCutchen added a solo shot, while Gorkys Hernandez had a two-run single and Neil Walker added an RBI base hit for the Pirates, who swept a series for the first time this season.

Erik Bedard (3-5) went six shutout innings and allowed just two hits and four walks while fanning three to pick up the win.

Cincinnati took two of three from the Bucs earlier this month.