(Sports Network) - One rookie has already pitched the Cincinnati Reds back into first place in the National League Central. Another will try to keep them there tonight.
Mike Leake takes the hill for the first time in nine days as Cincinnati continues a three-game set with thePittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
The eighth overall pick of the 2009 draft, Leake will be pitching for the first time since July 25 as the Reds look to limit his innings. The 22-year- old is 7-2 with a 3.57 earned run average over 19 starts and 121 innings.
Leake took a loss in his last start, falling to Houston after allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks over 6 1/3 frames. He has a 2.51 ERA in two starts versus the Pirates this year without a decision, yielding three runs over seven innings at Pittsburgh on April 16 in what was just his second big league start.
The right-hander will be following Travis Wood, who hurled seven shutout innings in last night's 4-0 victory. The rookie won his second straight start, with Russ Springer and Arthur Rhodes completing the three-hitter.
"[Wood] gave us exactly what we needed, seven strong innings," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "And we got some timely hitting, even though early in the game we left some runners out there."
Cincinnati earned its third straight win and fifth in six games to move a half-game up on St. Louis for first place in the NL Central. It did so without first baseman Joey Votto, who leads the NL with a .322 batting average and 27 homers but sat out last night's contest to rest a sprained right wrist.
Miguel Cairo started in his place and drove in two runs, while Chris Heisey added an inside-the-park home run for Cincinnati.
While Votto could return this evening, the Reds will likely be without shortstop Orlando Cabrera after he suffered a strained left oblique on Monday.
Neil Walker, Lastings Milledge and Delwyn Young each singled for Pittsburgh, which has dropped five in a row and nine of 11 overall and scored just four runs over its last four games.
Ross Ohlendorf, starting for the first time since getting hit on the head by a line drive last Wednesday, gave up three runs, five hits and four walks over five innings.
"I threw a lot of balls up in the zone," Ohlendorf said. "It wasn't a very good start."
Pittsburgh will hope for a better effort tonight out of Paul Maholm, but he is just 1-3 with a 6.23 ERA over his last five starts. Maholm lost his second straight outing Thursday versus Colorado, yielding a season-high eight runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings. He fell to 6-9 with a 4.52 ERA on the season.
The 28-year-old lefty is 5-4 with a 3.69 ERA in his career versus the Reds and has gone 1-0 in two starts against them this year. Maholm limited Cincinnati to just two runs over 6 2/3 innings of a home victory on April 18.
Cincinnati has won seven of 11 versus Pittsburgh this year, including a 4-3 advantage at PNC Park.