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Pregame: Cedeno, Pearce on mend

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HOUSTON — Ronny Cedeno reported today to Triple-A Indy to begin a rehab assignment. Manager Clint Hurdle said that, if all goes well, there’s a chance Cedeno could be activated in time for this weekend’s series against the Cardinals. Concussions can by tricky things, so nothing is certain at this point, but Cedeno looked good the past couple of days working out with the Pirates. “He seemed alert. He seemed crisp,” Hurdle said.

»»» Shortstop Jordy Mercer went 3 for 3, including a home run, last night for Indy. However, he left the game after being hit in the head by a pitch — so the short-handed Indians were forced to have Steve Pearce, who started the game at third, fill in at short. In three rehab games with Indy, Pearce is hitting .357 (5 for 14), including a double and two homers. Hurdle said Pearce might be able to rejoin the Pirates later this week.

“As far as I know, (Mercer’s) status is uncertain at this time,” GM Neal Huntington told me via email. It’s interesting to not, thought, that infielder Josh Rodriguez today was promoted from Double-A Altoona to Indy.

»»» A solo homer in the fifth inning last night extended Neil Walker’s hitting streak to 10 games. It’s his longest streak since an 18-game run from Aug. 23-Sept. 12, 2010. Walker went 4 for 5, boosting his batting average eight points to .271. It was his third career four-hit game. In 11 games this season against the Astros, Walker is batting .442 (19 for 43) with two homers and eight RBI. In his career, he’s hitting .382 against Houston.

»»» Pirates pitchers have a 2.57 ERA against Houston this season. The starters’ combined ERA in those 11 games is 2.18.

»»» Astros closer Mark Melancon tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his seventh save. It was his first save since June 8 against St. Louis. Over the past nine games, the Astros’ bullpen has a 0.39 ERA.

Lineups for today’s game:

Pirates (48-44) – 1. Alex Presley lf, 2. Chase d’Arnaud ss, 3. Neil Walker 2b, 4. Andrew McCutchen cf, 5. Garrett Jones rf, 6. Lyle Overbay 1b, 7. Brandon Wood 3b, 8. Eric Fryer c, 9. Kevin Correia rhp (11-7, 4.01)

Astros (31-63) – 1. Michael Bourn cf, 2.Clint Barmes ss, 3. Jeff Keppinger 2b, 4. Hunter Pence rf, 5. Carlos Lee lf, 6. Chris Johnson 3b, 7. Brett Wallace 1b, 8. Carlos Corporan c, 9. Wandy Rodriguez lhp (6-6, 3.52)

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