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Locke, Pirates try to avoid sweep in Cincinnati

Pittsburgh Pirates starter Jeff Locke was held out of the All-Star game due to lower back soreness. Sunday, he'll try to get back on the winning track after seeing his 16-game unbeaten streak broken.

Locke hits the mound today when Pittsburgh aims to avoid a three-game sweep against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.

Locke went 8-0 during his unbeaten string until suffering a loss against Oakland on July 8. He has posted a National League-leading 1.76 ERA this year on the road and has a career mark to 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA in three lifetime starts versus the Reds.

Cincinnati will counter with righty Homer Bailey, who hasn't fared well since throwing a no-hitter against the Giants on July 2. In his two starts since then, both on the road at Milwaukee and Atlanta, he's allowed 10 hits and four runs each time. Both ended in defeats.

On the positive side, Bailey is 8-2 with a 2.54 ERA in 13 career starts against the Pirates.

Pittsburgh hasn't received any clutch hitting in this series thus far. The Buccos are 0-for-16 with men in scoring position and have left 20 runners on base.

Yesterday, Joey Votto's bases-loaded walk in the sixth inning brought home Zack Cozart with the winning run, and Cincinnati claimed a 5-4 decision victory.

Cozart and Brandon Phillips both finished with two hits, an RBI and a run scored for the Reds, who have won four of their last five.

Mat Latos (9-3) allowed four hits and three runs -- two earned -- over five innings for the win. Aroldis Chapman posted his 23rd save with a scoreless ninth, but worked out of a two-on, no-out jam to wrap up the contest.

"If we had gone a whole lot longer, he might not have been able to come back," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of his starter. "As it was, he was at 100 pitches in the fifth. He was really at about 125-130, including what we threw underneath to stay warm."

Andrew McCutchen collected four hits including a solo homer, and Garrett Jones also went deep for the Pirates, losers of three straight and seven of 10.

A.J. Burnett (4-7) was charged in the setback with 10 hits and five runs -- two earned -- in 5 2/3 frames.

"We fought to get on base and to give ourselves opportunities to win the game," noted Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "The effort is there, but the challenge is to meet the demands of the game and overcome them."

Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo has a career-high 14-game hitting streak.

The teams have split 12 meetings this season.