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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, April 28th (All times Eastern)

Houston Astros (8-12) at Cincinnati Reds (9-11), 4:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Houston - Lucas Harrell (1-1, 3.97) Cincinnati - Johnny Cueto (2-0, 1.78)

(Sports Network) - Dominican-born ace Johnny Cueto aims for a fifth straight start without a loss today when the Cincinnati Reds host the Houston Astros in the second of three games at Great American Ball Park.

The Astros broke on top of the series in Friday's first game, when Wandy Rodriguez tossed six effective innings and Houston topped the Reds, 6-4.

Rodriguez (2-2) gave up just two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out six. Brett Myers got the final two outs in the ninth to collect his fourth save of the season.

Jose Altuve finished 2-for-5 with an RBI double, an RBI triple and a run scored, while J.D. Martinez, Jordan Schafer, Chris Johnson and Jason Castro all knocked in runs for the Astros, who have won two straight.

Jay Bruce and Devin Mesoraco clubbed solo home runs, while Joey Votto and Todd Frazier added an RBI apiece for the Reds, who have dropped two straight since a three-game winning streak.

Mike Leake (0-3) gave up six runs - three earned - on seven hits and no walks while striking out one hitter.

Cueto, who turned 26 in February, has won both decisions in his initial four starts while allowing just five earned runs on 22 hits in 25 1/3 innings.

He was a 4-3 winner over Chicago in the most recent outing on April 22 after giving up an earned run on five hits in 6 1/3 innings.

The Reds won the game, 4-3, and are 3-1 in games he's pitched.

Cueto is a subpar 1-5 in 10 lifetime starts against the Astros with a 4.01 earned run average in 60 2/3 innings.

For Houston, righty Lucas Harrell tries to end a three-start winless drought.

The 26-year-old was a 7-3 winner over Colorado in an April 7 start in Houston, but has gone 0-1 in three subsequent outings at Miami, Washington and Milwaukee.

Harrell was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2004 and debuted with them in 2010 with eight appearances and a 1-0 record.

He pitched in three games with the White Sox in 2011 before he was waived and ultimately signed by the Astros.

He was 0-2 in six games with Houston - two starts - and allowed five earned runs on 12 hits in 13 innings.

Harrell's pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief against the Reds and allowed two hits and two runs - allowing a .333 opposition batting average.

Cincinnati was 9-6 against the Astros last season.

04/28 10:33:11 ET