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CIN@MIA: Arroyo strikes out six over six innings

The Reds became the first team in baseball to secure a playoff spot Thursday in Chicago. On Friday night, they might have a shot at becoming the first division champ.

The Reds open a three-game series with the Dodgers on Friday at Great American Ball Park with their magic number for winning the National League Central at two. They already clinched at least a Wild Card spot with a 5-3 win over the Cubs on Thursday.

What is unclear is whether Reds manager Dusty Baker will be at the ballpark for the potential party. Baker was hospitalized Wednesday with an irregular heartbeat, and he underwent more tests Thursday. He was expected to fly back to Cincinnati on Friday, but it had yet to be determined if he would go to the park.

"If it was Dusty's decision, if he was OK to go back to Cincinnati, I'm sure he'd want to be managing again tomorrow," acting manager Chris Speier said.

With or without Baker on Friday, the Reds send right-hander Bronson Arroyo to the mound for the 30th time this season. Arroyo is pitching his best ball of late, going 5-1 with a 2.85 ERA in his past seven starts.

The Dodgers' 4-1 defeat to the Nationals on Thursday night pushed them three games behind the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card spot and a half-game behind the Brewers. Los Angeles comes to Cincinnati having lost 10 of its last 14.

"We're capable of winning every night," manager Don Mattingly said before Thursday's game. "I've said that all year long, I've said it when we had guys hurt and it didn't look like that, but I know we're capable of winning. I say it now when I see five or six guys -- not even counting the rest of the guys -- that are capable of getting hot and doing something spectacular every night."

On Friday, Mattingly will hand the ball to Joe Blanton, who is 1-4 with a 6.07 ERA in eight starts since being traded from the Phillies. He hasn't made it out of the sixth inning in his past two outings, the latest coming on Saturday, when he allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Cardinals.

Dodgers: No interest in scoreboard watching
• The Dodgers are in a position where they need help to make up their Wild Card deficit and qualify for the postseason, but Mattingly isn't interested in keeping an eye on the out-of-town scoreboard.

"We can only control ourselves at this point, you know?" Mattingly said. "We've got to keep pushing on everyone else, and that's just by winning. If St. Louis wins today, they feel good. If toward the end of the day they look up and we win, then they're like, 'They're still there. We've got to win again tomorrow.' We've got to put pressure on them. Same thing Milwaukee has to do to both of us, and whoever else is back there. You've got to win every day. We really don't have enough games to say, 'We'll get them tomorrow.'"

• A couple of newer Dodgers have continued marching toward personal bests after arriving in Los Angeles. Outfielder Shane Victorino matched his career high with 37 stolen bases on Wednesday, while first baseman Adrian Gonzalez's 45 doubles are one shy of his career high. Both marks were set in 2007.

Reds: Grand starts
• Second baseman Henry Rodriguez and center fielder Denis Phipps made their first Major League starts Thursday at Wrigley Field, each contributing to the victory. Rodriguez went 1-for-4 with a two-run double, while Phipps went 2-for-4 and scored.

• With 1,152 hits, Brandon Phillips needs three more base knocks to tie Hall of Famer Joe Morgan for 18th on the club's all-time list since 1900.

Worth noting
• Matt Kemp (.409, 9-for-22) and Andre Ethier (.300, 9-for-30) have hit Arroyo well in their careers.

• Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario hasn't allowed an earned run in his past 16 appearances, spanning 18 innings.

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