The opportunity for the Reds to hand the Pirates their first home sweep since 2012 presents itself Thursday with Homer Bailey on the mound.
Cincinnati pounded Pittsburgh on Wednesday, 11-4, to claim the first two games of series.
Bailey looks to continue a solid June and silence a Pirates team that has not been swept at PNC Park since a September 2012 series with the Brewers.
The Reds righty has posted a 3.54 ERA in three starts this month (20 1/3 innings) with 20 strikeouts.
Bailey took a no-decision in his last outing, a 6-5 win for Cincinnati over the Brewers. He allowed four runs, six hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out a season-high nine in his only start against the Pirates this season, but he also gave up five runs -- including four homers -- in only five innings for a no-decision.
Jeff Locke will oppose Bailey and look to prevent a sweep for the Bucs.
The lefty, who showed promise in 2013 with a 3.52 ERA in 30 starts, has already improved on his biggest weakness: a propensity for walks.
Locke led all National League pitchers with 84 walks in 166 1/3 innings last season. But in 2014, he's issued just one free pass in 20 1/3 innings. Locke walked at least one batter in all 30 starts last year. This season, he's already had two outings without a walk.
Locke dazzled in his most recent outing, befuddling the Marlins over eight innings of two-run ball on Friday. He allowed seven hits, walked none and struck out seven.
Thursday will be Locke's first matchup with the Reds this season after faring well for the most part against Cincinnati last year. His only hiccup was a one-inning, five-run performance in his final start of the year. But in his first three starts, Locke allowed just two runs in 18 innings against the Reds.
Reds: Ludwick back in lineup
Ryan Ludwick took a seat on the bench in Cincinnati's blowout win over the Pirates, but he'll return to the lineup for the finale.
Ludwick struggled through the first few months of the season, posting a pedestrian 246/.314/.352 slash line through the first two months, but he's enjoyed a torrid June.
The outfielder is hitting .419 this month, with two home runs and five doubles in 33 plate appearances.
"If you want to talk about something that could impact this team moving forward, it could be Ryan Ludwick giving us the types of at-bats he's been giving us here the last few weeks," manager Bryan Price said. "Not just as a starter, but coming off the bench and giving us good, quality performances off the bench. It's been exciting to watch, because I know it was an extremely frustrating start to the season for him."
Pirates: Streaks snapped/extended
Pittsburgh entered Wednesday's game with four players riding hitting streaks. Two extended them, while two saw them snapped.
Rookie phenom Gregory Polanco smacked a fifth-inning RBI single, meaning he's hit safely in his first eight Major League games -- the first rookie in Pirates history to do so.
Starling Marte made it nine straight games with at least one hit, as he's now collected 18 hits in his last 40 at-bats.
On the other side, Andrew McCutchen (12 games) and Russell Martin (seven games) saw their runs come to an end.
• Billy Hamilton smacked three more hits from the leadoff spot Wednesday, extending his multihit streak to a career-high four games.
Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.