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Hurdle: Pitching will decide NL Central race

CHICAGO – The National League Central is seemingly the hardest division to predict in the major leagues.

Just 4 1/2 games separate the first-place Cubs from the last-place Reds. By comparison, the first-place team has at least a 5 1/2-game lead in the other five divisions.

So, what will decide the NL Central? Clint Hurdle didn’t need to give a long, convoluted answer when asked Friday before the Pirates were scheduled to play the Cubs in the opener of a three-game series. The Pirates were returning to action following four days off for the All-Star break.