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Alvarez in 4 spot is long-term plan

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Pedro Alvarez is batting cleanup tonight against the Reds. Get used to it.

“This isn’t going to be a day-to-day thing,” manager Clint Hurdle said this afternoon. “This is going to be something where we put a foot down and make a commitment to it. We’ll see where it takes us and where it takes him.”

Today will be just the 12th time in the majors that Alvarez hits fourth, but it’s where everyone always figured he’d end up. The fact that he’s riding a seven-game hitting streak and has clubbed seven homers made this the right time to make it happen. “When I first took this job, I envisioned a day when we’d have him at cleanup,” Hurdle said. “You try to look for the right spot, the right time. He’s put down some traction the past two weeks, moving up from seventh to sixth to fifth. I’m optimistic about it. I talked to him, and here we go.”

»»» RHP James McDonald has a 2.08 in two starts at PNC Park this year. In 27 career games on the North Shore, he’s 9-3 with a 3.06 ERA.

Game 27: Reds @ Pirates, 7:05 p.m. ET

Reds (13-12): 1. Zach Cozart ss, 2. Drew Stubbs cf, 3. Joey Votto 1b, 4. Brandon Phillips 2b, 5. Jay Bruce rf, 6. Scott Rolen 3b, 7. Ryan Ludwick lf, 8. Devin Mesoraco c, 9. Mike Leake rhp (0-3, 6.65)

Pirates (11-15): 1. Jose Tabata lf, 2. Neil Walker 2b, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 5. Casey McGehee 1b, 6. Garrett Jones 1b, 7. Clint Barmes ss, 8. Rod Barjas c, 9. James McDonald rhp (1-1, 2.97)

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