(SportsNetwork.com) - Right-hander Homer Bailey makes his first start since signing a big contract extension with the Cincinnati Reds when they host the St. Louis Cardinals in the Thursday afternoon finale of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park.
The 27-year-old was a first-round draft pick in 2007 and showed intermittent signs of brilliance through his first several big-league seasons, including a pair of no-hitters in the last two seasons. The Reds showed their confidence when they inked him to a six-year deal with $105 million.
Bailey was 11-12 with a 3.49 earned run average in 32 starts for the since- departed Dusty Baker last season and pitched a career-high 209 innings. He was 2-2 against the Cardinals in four starts last season.
In seven innings of spring-training work, he allowed three hits and two runs.
The Cardinals reply with starter Lance Lynn, whose 33 wins since the start of 2012 are tied for the best in the National League.
He was 3-1 in five starts against the Reds in 2013 with a 3.38 earned run average, but he's split two career decisions in Cincinnati while posting a 6.00 ERA.
Lynn was both dominant and occasionally ineffective in spring training, striking out 27 batters in 16 2/3 innings while carrying a 6.06 ERA.
In 412 1/3 career big-league innings, he's held opposition batters to a .249 average.
The teams have split 1-0 decisions in the opening two games of the series, with the Reds winning Wednesday on a ninth-inning RBI single from Chris Heisey.
Cincinnati had set a franchise record with 17 straight scoreless innings to begin a season. The win was the first in the major-league career of new manager Bryan Price.
Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier led off the ninth with back-to-back singles off Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez and both moved up on Zack Cozart's bunt. After Martinez (0-1) intentionally walked Brayan Pena, Heisey laced an 0-1 fastball into left field and was mobbed by his teammates in the infield.
St. Louis was 11-8 against the Reds last season.