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STL@CIN: Latos fans five over seven strong innings

On Monday, the Pirates dropped the first game of their four-game set against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. But don't worry, it's all part of their plan.

In each of their five four-game series this season (counting a two-game home and home with the Tigers), the Bucs lost the first game and came back to win the next three. They'll try to continue this strange trend, one Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has absolutely no explanation for, Tuesday against Cincinnati.

The Reds would love to take three of four themselves.

"We have to get on them early and often, and take three out of four. That's the way we've been thinking," Reds third baseman Todd Frazier said. "It's not two out of four or one out of three. It's three of four. We have the players to do it."

Charlie Morton will make his second start of the season for the Pirates after undergoing Tommy John surgery last June. He's pretty familiar with the Reds, having seen them 12 times, all starts. He's 4-6 with a 4.27 ERA and will face Mat Latos, who's 6-0.

After his last start, a loss to the Giants on Thursday, Hurdle said he wanted Morton to work on staying aggressive and his delivery. The righty went five innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on seven hits, a walk and three hit batters.

"Once he's gotten through the adrenaline part of it now, it's all about intent, conviction and execution, so this will be a very good challenge for him," Hurdle said. "He's seen this team before a number of times. He's actually had some success here. He needs to go back in that Rolodex, find the good movie and watch the good movie and be ready to attack."

Morton will take on Latos, who is in a second-place tie with Atlanta's Mike Minor for getting the most run support among National League starters. He struck out seven in six innings against Pittsburgh on June 2.

Latos hasn't lost since Aug. 24, 2012, a string of 21 starts, which is a team record. He's been a victim of blown saves in two of his last three starts, but is still 6-0 on the year with a 3.08 ERA.

Pirates: Marte back in the starting lineup
Starling Marte hadn't started a game since Wednesday, but played four innings on Sunday after dealing with soreness in his rib cage.

The 24-year-old was back in the lineup on Monday against the Reds and went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. But he made a diving catch in the third inning to save a run and keep the game scoreless.

Reds: Cingrani will stick around as reliever
Even though the now-healthy Johnny Cueto took away Tony Cingrani's spot in the Reds' rotation, Dusty Baker wants a left-handed power arm around, so the manager won't be sending Cingrani back to Triple-A Louisville.

Instead, he's keeping him in the bullpen, which is fine by Cingrani, as long as he's with the big league club. The young lefty pitched two-thirds of an inning on Monday, coming on with one out in the eighth for his first relief appearance of the season. He struck out Gaby Sanchez looking, walked Russell Martin and fanned Pedro Alvarez with two on to hold the Reds' one-run lead.

"Whenever they call my name, I'll be right there," said Cingrani, who went 3-0 with a 3.15 ERA in seven starts, before Monday's game. "I'm happy to be here. Whatever they want me to do. If this is what they need, it's what they need."

Worth nothing
• The Pirates are 6-3-1 in 10 series against National League Central teams this season.

• The Reds and Pirates each have 25 home wins this season, the most in baseball.

• Current Pirates are hitting .173 with a .564 OPS lifetime against Latos, who is 4-0 with a 2.29 ERA in eight career starts against the Bucs.

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