Surging Pirates have bypassed Reds in NL Central

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The distracted among us may have missed this weekend that the Pirates have passed the Reds in the National League Central race. Not only that, Pittsburgh has closed within a game of St. Louis for the division lead.

While Cincinnati lost two of three in the Arizona desert, Pittsburgh swept┬áthe Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to extend its winning streak to four. The Pirates didn’t get great starting pitching in Anaheim — none of its three starters completed seven innings — but they did swing the bats. Clint Hurdle’s team scored 21 runs in the three wins. Pedro Alvarez homered in all three games, after the homer he hit in the final game of the Reds series in Cincinnati on Thursday.

Meanwhile, St. Louis was swept at home by Texas. The Cardinals managed just seven runs in the three games. It’s the team’s first three-game losing streak since April 27-29. Adam Wainwright lost last night, taking his second straight setback to drop to 10-5 for the season.

Cincinnati was bashed Friday night, 11-5, by Arizona’s bats as Johnny Cueto turned in a surprisingly poor outing. Aroldis Chapman blew the save and the game Saturday as the Reds lost 4-3 to the Diamondbacks. But Mat Latos stopped the skid Sunday, pitching a strong 7.2 innings. Chapman worked out of trouble in the ninth to get the save in a 4-2 win.

Sunday marked the first game in five that Jay Bruce did not homer. The hot-hitting right fielder now has 18 this season after hitting two homers in Saturday’s loss.

The Pirates and Reds remain on the West Coast this week while St. Louis starts a Western trip. Here’s a look at the schedules for the three teams this week:

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