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TB@CIN: Cueto holds Rays to two runs over seven

The Pirates and the Reds will wind up 22 hours of concentrated baseball early Wednesday afternoon with the rubber game of their series.

The "rubber" does not refer to the shoe-covering for snowy conditions, since frigid temperatures and the white stuff will move out of the Queen City, but to the deciding game of the set after the teams split the first two.

Both decisions were rendered Tuesday, starting with the 5:30 p.m. ET conclusion of Monday night's suspended game, leading to the rarity of three outcomes possibly within 24 hours.

The Reds will be after their first series win of the season, and the Bucs will be trying to make it four out of five. It could be a tall order for both of the day's pitchers.

Pittsburgh's Francisco Liriano absorbed three of his eight losses last season against the Reds. And Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto went into the offseason with 40,000 Pirates fans' chant of his name ringing in his ears.

That, of course, occurred during the National League Wild Card game in PNC Park, which Cueto lost, 6-2.

Cueto has been the picture of consistency early this season, and remains winless despite a 2.14 ERA in three starts only because the Reds have scored one run while he has been on the mound.

"That's something I can't control," said Cueto. "That's up to the other part of the team. I always say I have to do my job. I have to throw seven, eight innings. I have to do my job and they have to do their job."

Cueto has done the seven-inning part every time out, allowing 13 hits and five runs in those 21 innings, in which he has fanned 23.

Then, he has repeatedly been one of the league's toughest hitters when healthy, with a sub-3.00 ERA every season since 2011.

In the Pirates' 15th game, Liriano will attempt to become the team's second starting pitcher to register a win. Gerrit Cole owns the rotation's only two wins, with five others having been picked up by the bullpen.

Pirates: All guts and glory
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle's gut instincts appear to be in fine working order. Bypassing lefty-hitting Travis Ishikawa in the platoon arrangement, he has given Gaby Sanchez two consecutive starts against right-handers.

Despite a mediocre .222 (4-for-18) composite average against Homer Bailey and Mike Leake, Sanchez came through with a homer and a pair of RBIs against them in the first two games of the series.

"A batting average can read .200 but if you dig deeper, you might find four hard-hit balls without hits, or some at-bats with more than five pitches," Hurdle said. "There's different things to look at. You also have to go with what our eyes and gut tell us."

Reds: Phillips off to hot start
Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips has a seven-game hitting streak going after he went 2-for-5 on Tuesday. Phillips has hit safely in 12 of his 14 games played this season and is hitting .328 with one homer and three RBIs overall for Cincinnati.

Liriano should provide a good test for Phillips' hot streak. Phillips is 3-for-14 (.214) with one RBI in his career against the left-hander.

Worth noting
• By staying in the park for the true final three innings of Monday night's suspended game, the Bucs fell short of matching their club record of seven homers, accomplished only one time in the last 67 years, on Aug. 20, 2003. Previously, the Pirates had also homered seven times on Aug. 16, 1947 against St. Louis and on June 6, 1894 against the Boston Beaneaters.

• Devin Mesoraco has a Reds-leading nine RBIs in six games since returning from the disabled list.

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