The Cincinnati Reds can make it five straight against their in-state rivals from Cleveland tonight when they head to Progressive Field to meet the Indians in the opener of a three-game interleague series.

The Reds, who've never swept a season series with Cleveland, won three straight when the teams met in Cincinnati earlier this month.

They also won the last game last season's six-game series and have pulled even at 39 games apiece since the teams began playing in 1997.

Cincinnati has been hot against all competition as of late, winning six consecutive games to stretch their first-place lead in the National League Central Division to four games ahead of Pittsburgh and five games over St. Louis.

The Indians, meanwhile, have lost two straight and are 1 1/2 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central.

Veteran right-hander Derek Lowe gets the call for Cleveland with another chance to end a recent funk that's all but canceled out his very successful start to 2012.

The 39-year-old Michigan native was 6-1 after a complete-game defeat of the Minnesota Twins on May 15, but has dropped decisions in four of five starts since while his earned run average has swelled from 2.05 to 3.78.

Lowe gave up three runs on five hits in six innings of his most recent start on June 13, which ended in a 5-3 loss to the Reds in Cincinnati.

He's 4-4 in nine career meetings with the Reds.

Cincinnati counters with righty Mat Latos, who defeated Lowe and the Indians in that June 13 game and has won five straight since an 0-2 beginning to his initial season with the Reds.

Acquired in a deal that sent Edinson Volquez to San Diego, Latos lost his initial two starts with his new team before reeling off five in a row and shrinking his ERA from 8.22 to 4.64.

In the win against Cleveland, he allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings while walking one and striking out seven.

The game was the first of his career against the Indians.

On Sunday in New York, Johnny Cueto gave up just one run and struck out eight to lead the Reds to a 3-1 win over the Mets, completing a three-game sweep at Citi Field.

Cueto (8-3) allowed six hits and walked just one over seven frames to pick up his third win in as many starts.

Brandon Phillips and Wilson Valdez both drove in a run and Zack Cozart collected three hits and scored once for the Reds, who have swept their last two series.

Sean Marshall stranded two runners in the eighth and tossed a perfect ninth to get his ninth save of the season.

In Cleveland, Pedro Alvarez hit a pair of three-run home runs to lead the Pirates past the Indians, 9-5, in the rubber match of a three-game interleague set.

Jeanmar Gomez (4-6) was touched for eight runs - four earned - on seven hits and two walks over 4 1/3 innings to take the loss.

Jason Kipnis had three hits, including a home run, and scored twice for the Indians, who lost for the fifth time in six games.