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PIT@CIN: Cumpton tosses five scoreless, fans three

PITTSBURGH -- When the Pirates and Reds meet Thursday in their four-game series finale, Pittsburgh will be tapping into its system depth for a starting pitcher who has tamed Cincinnati before.

Brandon Cumpton, ranked as the Pirates' No. 12 prospect, will get the call to replace injured left-hander Wandy Rodriguez. Cumpton made five starts (six appearances) for the Pirates last season, and in the final one blanked the Reds on two hits over five innings -- running his shutout streak to 15 innings. That is tied for the third-longest active streak among big league starters (Adam Wainwright 17, Martin Perez 17, Alex Cobb also 15) as he re-enters the picture.

"I tried to learn from each outing," Cumpton said of his 2013 experience. "Take the positive and stick it in the memory bank, and also note what i struggled with and continue to work on those things and hopefully keep getting better."

In three starts at Triple-A Indianapolis, Cumpton was 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA and a 11-3 strikeouts-to-walks ratio in 19 innings. During Spring Training, he was the Pirates' busiest starter, with 20 1/3 innings and a 2.21 ERA.

Pitching for Cincinnati will be lefty Tony Cingrani, who is coming off a subpar outing Saturday, when he was an 8-4 loser to the Cubs. Cingrani threw 104 pitches over five innings with three runs, four hits and four walks. Much of the damage was inflicted by Chicago on the Reds' bullpen, however.

"I've been battling myself the last couple starts and just trying to find that command and consistent mechanics. It just hasn't been working well the last couple starts," Cingrani said.

Reds: Late-inning defense in left field

The Reds have double-switched a few times where left fielder Ryan Ludwick is replaced by Chris Heisey in the later innings. Though on Tuesday, there was no double-switch when Heisey replaced Ludwick for the seventh inning.

"We're doing some stuff for defense," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I like having his bat in the lineup as long as possible, but there are times where we're going to go with a defender late in the game."

Ludwick did not start Wednesday as Price used Roger Bernadina in left field. Ludwick fouled a ball off of his toe in Chicago on Friday but had played three straight games since Sunday.

"His toe is a little sore, but it's not preventing him from playing," Price said. "It's making sure he gets his fair bit of rest and the other guys get to play as well."

Pirates: Plan for Martin uncertain

Russell Martin was in the original lineup Wednesday night until he was removed about 90 minutes before first pitch by "managerial discretion," the club announced. Chris Stewart took over behind the plate.

There was no further pregame explanation for the move, but odds were manager Clint Hurdle wanted to have Martin catch Cumpton in the Thursday afternoon game and, as with most veteran catchers, he would not have played following a night game.

Worth noting
• Altoona right-hander Nick Kingham, rated the Pirates' No. 8 prospect, leads the Eastern League with a 0.53 ERA. Another righty on the Double-A club, Adrian Sampson, is tied for the lead with three wins and is third with an ERA of 1.17.

• Reds infielder/outfielder Skip Schumaker, on the disabled list because of a dislocated left shoulder, is headed to Goodyear, Ariz., on Thursday to get at-bats in extended spring games. Eventually, Schumaker will move on to a rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville. Comments