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Pirates Vs. Astros Preview: James McDonald Tries To Lead Bucs To Sweep

The Pirates will look to complete a four-game sweep of the Houston Astros -- and to win their fifth game in a row -- at 2:05 p.m. Sunday, as James McDonald takes on Lucas Harrell.

The Cincinnati Reds have won nine games in a row, so the Pirates have made up no ground in the N.L. Central despite some very solid recent play. They'll at least have a good chance of keeping pace with the Reds on Sunday, though, as the Astros have lost 12 in a row.

McDonald has been the Pirates' ace this season, but right now, he's trying to get back on track, having given up two homers in each of his last two starts. The Astros' weak lineup could provide a perfect prescription. Harrell hasn't allowed more than one run in any of his last three starts, and he struck out nine Pirates in early July, but he also gave up five runs to the Bucs. And based on his long-term track record, he arguably wouldn't be in most big-league rotations.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Astros, there's Crawfish Boxes.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.