That trip is especially important because the Reds hope to maintain their perilous position atop the National League Central, a first-place standing that has withered to touch-and-go status in recent days. Cincinnati has gone 11-11 in its past 22 games, and with two series against the Phillies in the next two weeks, the Reds want to make a strong first impression.
"We can't be upside down facing those Phillies," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "And the fact that we have 15 games left in a row. That's what you have to realize. You could get upside down, especially when we're playing the Phillies, the Cubs, the Mets and then the Phillies again. You want your bullpen and your pitching staff, if anything, to be strong. Relatively strong."
And in that respect, Baker has at least one thing he won't have to worry about. Young Johnny Cueto, who's in the midst of a breakout season, will get the ball and be matched up against Kyle Kendrick in Monday's series opener.
Cueto, who has won six of his past seven decisions, is still trying to establish a consistent presence. The right-hander went 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA in May, but he's had an ERA over 5.00 in April and June. Cueto has yet to have a start with more walks than strikeouts and has completed at least six innings in eight of his past 10 starts. The Reds, fittingly, are 8-2 in that span.
And on the other side, he'll be facing a team with the same kind of track record. Kendrick hasn't had as much individual success as Cueto this season, but the Phillies have managed to go 7-2 in his past nine starts. Kendrick, a former seventh-round Draft pick, posted a 7.61 ERA in April, but rebounded to a combined mark of 3.49 over the past two months of action.
Kendrick shows a huge home-road split, though, which may actually work in his favor on Monday. The right-hander has a 2-2 record and a 6.62 ERA at home this season, compared to a 2-0 record and a 3.20 mark on the road.
Phillies: Bats starting to heat up
Don't look now, but the Phillies are swinging the bats again. The defending National League champions have scored 75 runs in their past 11 games, and they've notched at least 10 hits seven times in that span. Prior to that streak, Philadelphia went through a 25-game slump that saw the team hit .217 (175-for-806), score 63 total runs and get shut out six times.
The whole team is behind that reversal of fortune, but cleanup man Ryan Howard has been particularly hot of late. Philadelphia's first baseman has homered five times in his past 11 games after hitting just two long balls in the previous 21-game stretch. The Phillies are 11-3 when he hits a home run this season, and for his career, Philadelphia is 139-73 when Howard goes deep.
Reds: Bray gives Reds a new weapon
The Reds made a roster move for the Philly series on Sunday, when they optioned Sam LeCure down to Triple-A Louisville and recalled lefty reliever Bill Bray to take his place. Bray -- who hasn't pitched in the big leagues since undergoing ligament replacement surgery on his elbow in May of 2009 -- will give the Reds more weapons against a left-heavy lineup.
LeCure will return at some point to step back into the rotation, but for now, Bray is a bigger help.
"It's simply because we don't need [LeCure's] spot for three or four more days, and we've got the Phillies coming in with all these lefties," said Baker. "So it's not a bad idea to have three lefties in the 'pen out there. When his spot comes up, then we'll see what our next move is. Sometimes, when you're trying to win the pennant, you have to make these temporary auxiliary moves."
Howard is just the fourth player in big league history -- along with Babe Ruth, Ken Griffey Jr. and Sammy Sosa -- to have four consecutive seasons with at least 40 homers and 130 RBIs. ... Cueto has gone four starts without allowing a home run. ... Bray hasn't pitched for the Reds since the final game of the 2008 season. Bray made 10 scoreless relief appearances as part of a rehab assignment -- six for Louisville and four for Class A Lynchburg -- before the Reds cleared him to return. ... Philadelphia's Jamie Moyer won his 267th career game on Sunday, moving within one victory of tying Jim Palmer for 34th place in the all-time record book. Moyer also became the 40th pitcher in MLB history with 4,000 innings.
Mon, 6/28 7:10 PM ET
Rolling Reds prove too much for Phillies
Scott Rolen hit career homer No. 300 as the Reds, who have won six of their past seven, rolled with clutch hitting and glove work behind Johnny Cueto. The Phils' Chase Utley hurt his right thumb and will need an MRI.
|b-Castro, Ju, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.212|
|Valdez, W, 3B||2||0||0||0||1||0||1||.244|
|Kendrick, K, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.043|
|Romero, J, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Phillips, B, 2B||5||1||1||0||0||1||2||.309|
|Cabrera, O, SS||4||0||3||1||0||0||0||.247|
|Gomes, J, LF||4||0||0||0||0||0||5||.279|
|Hernandez, Ra, C||3||1||1||1||0||0||0||.282|
2B: Howard (14, Cueto).
3B: Howard (3, Cueto).
HR: Ibanez (6, 9th inning off Bray, 1 on, 2 out).
TB: Victorino; Utley; Howard 5; Werth 2; Ibanez 5.
RBI: Ibanez 3 (35).
2-out RBI: Ibanez 2.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Howard; Victorino.
SAC: Kendrick, K.
GIDP: Schneider; Ibanez.
Team RISP: 2-for-7.
Team LOB: 4.
E: Utley (10, fielding).
2B: Cabrera, O (18, Kendrick, K), Votto (13, Kendrick, K), Hernandez, Ra (8, Kendrick, K), Bruce (16, Zagurski).
HR: Rolen (17, 4th inning off Kendrick, K, 1 on, 2 out).
TB: Phillips, B; Cabrera, O 4; Votto 4; Rolen 4; Bruce 2; Stubbs; Hernandez, Ra 2.
RBI: Rolen 3 (53), Votto (51), Hernandez, Ra (17), Cabrera, O (28), Heisey (6).
2-out RBI: Rolen 2; Cabrera, O.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Bruce; Gomes, J 2; Phillips, B.
SAC: Cueto; Hernandez, Ra.
SF: Rolen; Heisey.
Team RISP: 4-for-9.
Team LOB: 6.
CS: Cabrera, O (1, 3rd base by Kendrick, K/Schneider).
Outfield assists: Stubbs (Utley at 2nd base).
DP: 2 (Phillips, B-Cabrera, O-Votto, Votto-Cabrera, O-Votto).
|Kendrick, K(L, 4-3)||6.1||8||6||5||0||4||1||4.88|
Pitches-strikes: Kendrick, K 81-54, Herndon 4-2, Romero, J 9-3, Zagurski 26-14, Cueto 109-68, Bray 17-12.
Groundouts-flyouts: Kendrick, K 9-3, Herndon 0-0, Romero, J 1-0, Zagurski 1-1, Cueto 11-6, Bray 2-0.
Batters faced: Kendrick, K 27, Herndon 2, Romero, J 3, Zagurski 5, Cueto 29, Bray 5.
Inherited runners-scored: Herndon 1-1, Romero, J 1-0.
Umpires: HP: Kerwin Danley. 1B: CB Bucknor. 2B: Doug Eddings. 3B: Dana DeMuth.
Weather: 84 degrees, partly cloudy.
Wind: 8 mph, Varies.
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media