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08/20/10 9:58 PM ET

Reds looking for eighth straight win

Getting swept by the rival Cardinals and the now-famous fracas that came with it may turn out to be the event that kicked the Reds into gear for the home stretch.

They've been unbeatable ever since -- literally.

Cincinnati has won seven consecutive games since that series and will go for No. 8 in a row when it faces Los Angeles in the second of a three-game series on Saturday at Dodger Stadium.

Friday's 3-1 Reds victory snapped their 12-game losing streak at Dodger Stadium and also pushed their road winning streak to eight games.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre said the Reds' recent play hasn't been a coincidence.

"Ever since the Cardinals beat them up at home in that emotional series that they had, they've been on a mission and they've gone and beat up some people," Torre said. "They had a couple games, especially against Arizona, that they scored a lot of runs, especially late. They're playing with a lot of confidence right now."

Reds righty Johnny Cueto will make his first start since serving a suspension for kicking those around him during the brawl with the Cardinals. He threw a simulated game and bullpen session earlier this week and said he is ready to return to the mound.

"I feel strong. I worked out a lot -- running, everything," Cueto said.

Cueto is 5-2 with a 1.99 ERA in his last 10 starts.

Heading to the hill for Los Angeles will be Chad Billingsley, who has allowed six runs total over his last six starts but has only two wins to show for it because of eight total runs of support in those games and a less-than-stellar bullpen.

That bad luck includes his last outing in Atlanta, where he gave up one run on five hits over seven innings but did not factor into the decision because the bullpen allowed the Braves to score three runs in the ninth-inning and come away with a walk-off win.

Billingsley gave up seven runs (four earned) in three innings in a start in Cincinnati in April.

Reds: Gomes stuck at 99
Jonny Gomes did not play on Friday against the Dodgers and still finds himself in a 1-for-19 slump. He's also been stuck on 99 career home runs since July 19, but Reds manager Dusty Baker said he doesn't believe Gomes is trying to put extra pressure on himself to try to reach 100.

"He's pulling off the ball some," Baker said. "As a hitter, sometimes you tend to press when you see your batting average sinking. I think one of the worst things and best things ever created was when they put your average up on the board. I don't care who you are, you're going to look."

Dodgers: Manny may return
The return of Manny Ramirez from a calf injury could come on Saturday after the slugger made his third rehab start for Class A Inland Empire on Friday. Ramirez played six innings in left field and went 0-for-2 at the plate. Still, Torre said the Dodgers will not rush Ramirez back, partly because of the subsequent roster move that would have to be made.

"He said he felt good, and I just told him that we need to have a little more of a read on being able to handle the outfield stuff," Torre said before Friday's contest. "We have to make a move, and that move's not going to be easy to make."

Worth noting
The Reds led the National League in most major offensive categories entering Friday, including batting average, hits, runs and RBIs. ... Brandon Phillips has not committed an error in 54 consecutive games. ... The Dodgers have recorded quality starts in eight of their last 10 games. ... Los Angeles placed starting pitcher Vicente Padilla on the 15-day disabled list with a bulging disk in his neck on Friday and recalled reliever Travis Schlichting from Triple-A Albuquerque. Carlos Monasterios started in Padilla's place on Friday and took the loss after allowing three runs in 4 1/3 innings.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.