Alfredo Simon has had two forgettable starts this season. After the first one, he bounced back with 7 2/3 shutout innings.
How he responds to the second one will be discovered Sunday when he takes the mound in the series finale against the D-backs.
Simon has been rock solid for the Reds this season with a 2.90 ERA, a 6-3 record and a 1.097 WHIP. However, in his last outing, Simon surrendered five runs on five hits to the Dodgers and left the game after just 3.2 innings.
"Sometimes your effort level goes up and you try so hard, that you get away from your strengths," Reds manager Bryan Price said after Simon's last start. "His strength, besides having very good stuff, is executing quality pitches. That got away from him in the fourth."
The early exit marked just the second time this season Simon has not reached at least the sixth inning, the other being a May 10 start against Colorado when he gave up five runs in three innings. His next start was the 7 2/3 innings of scoreless ball against the Phillies.
The D-backs will attempt to split the four-game set by bookending it with wins, and they'll have left-hander Wade Miley on the mound.
Miley is 3-5 in 2014 with a 4.76 ERA, but had one of his best outings in his last start. Miley struck out a season-best 11 batters and limited the Padres to three runs on eight hits in seven innings on Tuesday.
Reds: Mesoraco expected in lineup Sunday
Devin Mesoraco got a night off Saturday, but will likely rejoin the lineup Sunday for the first time since joining some elite company.
Mesoraco had a monster game Friday night in a win against the D-backs, going 2-for-4 with two homers, one of which was a grand slam. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Mesoraco joined Andy Seminick, Smoky Burgess, Johnny Bench and Javier Valentin as the only catchers in Reds history to hit two homers, one being a grand slam, in one game.
The grand slam raised Mesoraco's RBI total to 25 on the season, and the 25-year-old is putting up numbers across the box score that are far better than his career averages. Though he missed some time because of a strained left hamstring, Mesoraco has hit .355/.402/.699 in 26 games and also has eight homers and a team-best 1.101 OPS so far this season.
Diamondbacks: Pollock sidelined after being hit by pitch
A pitch to the hand could not have come at a more inopportune time for A.J. Pollock.
Pollock, who was hitting .522 (12-for-23) with a homer, six doubles and a 1.593 OPS in his past six games, broke his right hand when he was hit by a Johnny Cueto pitch in the eighth inning of Saturday's loss.
It was unclear as of Saturday night how long Pollock would be out or if he would require surgery, but manager Kirk Gibson said the outfielder would land on the disabled list. It's a big blow to the last-place D-Backs, as Pollock was leading the team in multiple offensive categories including average, on-base percentage and OPS, and was also producing in the leadoff spot for Arizona.
"It's frustrating," Pollock said. "Unfortunately, it's part of baseball. People have injuries. This one, there's not much else I could do. Guy ran one up and in and hit me in the hand."
• The D-backs were shut out Saturday for the seventh time this season, already tying the shutouts in the 2013 campaign.
• The Reds went 4-for-8 with runners in scoring position Saturday. Entering the game, Cincinnati was hitting just .212 with a runner on second or third, the third-worst mark in the Majors.
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.