MLB

Reds-Pirates Preview

With an offense that's on a roll, the Pittsburgh Pirates hope Jeff Locke can take advantage and build on his outstanding performance at hitter-friendly Coors Field.

Pittsburgh will try to continue pouring in runs Sunday when it goes after a seventh straight win and a home sweep of the struggling Cincinnati Reds.

John Jaso set the tone for another surge Saturday with a leadoff home run as the Pirates scored five runs or more for the seventh time in nine games in a 5-1 victory.

''You're always hoping to get results but you never expect it that quickly,'' Jaso said.

David Freese and Francisco Cervelli had two hits apiece and Sean Rodriguez also homered. Freese is batting .333 with four doubles and five RBIs in his last six games.

The Pirates (15-9) have averaged 7.2 runs while batting .296 with 15 homers during this 8-1 stretch. Josh Harrison is hitting .406 with 11 RBIs in his last 13 games and fellow infielder Jordy Mercer is batting .413 with eight RBIs in his past 12.

Now they'll try to give Locke plenty of support with designs on closing out their first home sweep of the Reds since April 2013. The left-hander, however, might not need a whole lot of offensive backing if he can replicate Monday's performance.

After giving up 11 runs and 16 hits over 7 2/3 innings in consecutive losses, Locke got on track by allowing five hits and striking out eight over six scoreless innings in a 6-1 victory at Colorado. Manager Clint Hurdle said it was the best he's seen Locke pitch since he threw eight shutout innings against Cleveland on July 4.

"He got in such a strong, aggressive rhythm," Hurdle told the league's official website. "Fastball command, the intent, the conviction, the execution. Used the changeup in offensive counts, sprinkled in some curveballs... Big for us, good for him."

Locke (1-2, 5.03 ERA) has a 3.14 ERA in 12 career starts versus Cincinnati. He gave up one run - a Eugenio Suarez homer - over six innings in a 2-1 road loss April 10.

Suarez went 3 for 3 and Adam Duvall had two doubles off him in that contest.

The Reds (9-15), though, have totaled 11 runs while hitting .181 with just three home runs in losses during this 1-8 stretch. Billy Hamilton had three of their six hits Saturday, but Duvall (2 for 18), Brandon Phillips (4 for 24), Jay Bruce (2 for 17) and Scott Schebler (4 for 46) are among those scuffling.

"It (stinks) to lose any time you lose," Phillips said. "To lose the way we've been losing is tough. We have been sloppy."

Right-hander Tim Adleman is expected to be called up from Triple-A Louisville to make his big league debut as Cincinnati tries to avoid a seventh straight defeat. Scheduled starter Raisel Iglesias was scratched due to inflammation in his shoulder.

The 28-year-old Adleman is 2-0 with a 4.24 ERA in three starts for Louisville.

"We'll try to make a decision on how much time (Iglesias) will miss," manager Bryan Price said. "We don't believe that it's considered something that will require any intrusive procedures. Surgery has been ruled out at this time. It's just some inflammation, and we hope we are able to knock it out here quickly."

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