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CIN@NYM: Arroyo sharp in six solid frames vs. Mets

With about two weeks until the All-Star break, both the Reds and Brewers want to finish the first half of the season strong.

For Cincinnati, that means turning it around after losing five of the last six entering Monday and trying to extend its National League Central lead. But for Milwaukee, which lost two of three to the White Sox before heading to the Queen City, there's a little more urgency.

The two teams will square off in the second of a three-game series on Tuesday, with Marco Estrada returning from the disabled list to start for the Crew and Bronson Arroyo taking the mound for the Cincinnati.

After Monday's 3-1 loss, the Brewers trail the Reds by 7 1/2 games in the division. Although that's certainly not an insurmountable deficit, Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said it won't happen unless the Brewers change the way they've been executing lately.

"I think it's a way we can get back in this thing, and I've talked about, 'All we need is a good week,' and I still believe that," he said. "But I'm also concerned, just about the way we're playing. I think that's where my concentration is -- not on who we're playing, but how we're playing."

Sunday's 1-0 loss to the White Sox didn't make Roenicke feel any better, as the Brewers ran into more of the same issues they've seen all season, including mistakes on the bases, a failure to drive in runs in key moments and inconsistent relief pitching.

On the flip side, the Reds are ready to put their recent skid behind them, and Monday's win was a good start. Cincinnati will be looking for more on Tuesday, though, considering the club hits the road for 11 games heading into the break after this series.

"You want to finish in a flurry," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "When this is over, you want to start fast in the second half. It's a tough road we've got."

Brewers: Estrada to start in return from DL
After than more than a month out of action for the Brewers, Estrada is set to return to the mound on Tuesday.

It will be the right-hander's first appearance for Milwaukee since he strained his right quadriceps while running out a double on May 23.

"I'm very happy," Estrada said. "I really appreciate the opportunity, because this is what I want to do -- I want to be a starter. I love starting."

Estrada did his time away from Milwaukee working on his windup to improve his command. He rehabbed with Triple-A Nashville, and felt "pretty good" after throwing 75 pitches in his last outing.

"Physically, I'm there," Estrada said. "It should be a normal outing."

Reds: Stubbs solid in return
Reds center fielder Drew Stubbs returned to the team in a big way on Monday, going 2-for-3 at the plate and scoring two runs.

Stubbs hadn't played since June 5 after straining his left oblique muscle and was activated Monday following a three-game Minor League rehab assignment.

"I'm glad to have him back," Baker said. "Hopefully he can come back and not miss a beat and actually be better. He has fresh legs, he said his legs were feeling great. Hopefully he can give us a spark and a jolt, too. He's our No. 1 speed man. That's the one thing that without him in the lineup you're lacking: speed. I love speed. There's no substitute for it."

• Right-hander Bronson Arroyo (3-5) will take the hill for the Reds on Tuesday, looking to improve on his last outing when he tied a season high with five runs surrendered in just four innings. He is 12-8 with a 3.70 ERA in 25 career games against Milwaukee.

Worth noting
• Brewers first baseman Corey Hart has played in 28 games at first base this season, including 23 starts, without committing an error.

• Great American Ball Park has seen a home run hit in each of the last 63 games, which is the longest active streak in baseball, dating back to July 29, 2011.

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