Daily Bet: Pirates (-135) vs. Astros

So much for that six-game winning streak, thanks to the Reds’ pathetic effort Tuesday in Los Angeles. (Not sure what was more embarrassing: that Cincinnati produced just one run against Chris Capuano and four relievers, or that the Reds allowed the Dodgers’ Double-A-esque lineup to find home plate three times.) The new winning streak begins tonight with a play on the red-hot (that’s right, I said red-hot) Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates have taken the first three games of a four-game series against Houston; they’ve won seven of their last eight; they’re 13-5 in their last 18; they’re 15-3 in their last 18 at home; and at 45-36, they’re all alone in first place in the NL Central. Again, these are the Pirates, who last had a winning season when the first George Bush was in office and reality TV was limited to 30 minutes in Judge Wapner’s chambers.

Meanwhile, headed the opposite direction are the Astros, who are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak in which they’ve been outscored 42-18. And since knocking off the Pirates 1-0 in the first meeting this season, Houston has lost six straight in this rivalry, all in Pittsburgh. Granted, Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Karstens (1-2, 5.25 ERA) isn’t anything special, but neither is Houston’s Bud Norris (5-5, 4.90 ERA overall; 2-4, 7.55 ERA on the road). Then there’s this: Karstens faced Houston three times last year, going 3-0 while allowing one run, 15 hits and no walks in 22 2/3 innings.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆

Friday’s Result: Reds (-140) at Dodgers (Loss)

Record: 22-19