Reds try to get Leake first win in opener with Braves

Cincinnati right-hander Mike Leake makes his eighth try at a first win of 2012 tonight when the Reds host the Atlanta Braves in the opener of a four-game series at Great American Ball Park.

The eighth overall pick of the 2009 draft, Leake debuted with the Reds in 2010 and won eight games, then jumped to 12 wins across 29 appearances a season later.

He began 2012 with an April 10 loss to St. Louis, then got a no-decision five days later in the Reds' 8-5 win at Washington. His next four outings were all losses as he allowed 28 hits and 20 runs in 19 1/3 innings.

The skid ended with another no-decision in another Cincinnati win on May 16 against the Mets at New York, where he allowed a single earned run on seven hits in six innings with five strikeouts.

Leake is 1-0 in two career starts against the Braves.

For Atlanta, lefty Mike Minor gets the start for the ninth time this season and aims for his first win since April 19.

Picked one spot earlier than Leake by the Braves in 2009, Minor won eight games across 23 appearances in 2010-11 and was 2-1 in his initial three starts this season while allowing nine runs on 13 hits in 20 1/3 innings.

He's 0-2 in five subsequent outings, including an 8-4 loss to Miami in his most recent outing on May 16, when he gave up six runs in 4 2/3 innings.

Minor has never faced the Reds.

On Sunday in Tampa Bay, Tim Hudson tossed 7 2/3 shutout innings and David Ross added a solo home run as the Braves blanked the Rays, 2-0, in the finale of a three-game interleague series.

Hudson (3-1) fanned three and surrendered just four hits and two walks for Atlanta, which has won seven of its last 10.

"My sinker's been the key for me all year and just locating it down in the zone and I was able to mix it in and out today," Hudson said.

Chipper Jones missed his second consecutive game with a left calf contusion, suffered on Friday when B.J. Upton stung a hard one-hop infield single off his leg in the third inning. The Braves improved to 7-11 without him in the lineup.

In New York, Ryan Ludwick homered and drove in three runs and the Reds beat the Yankees for the second day in a row, 5-2, to finish off a three-game series.

Johnny Cueto (5-1) pitched into the eighth inning, outlasting Yankees ace CC Sabathia, and picked up the win after allowing two runs on eight hits and two walks.

The 26-year-old righty, coming off his first loss last Tuesday at Atlanta, struck out five.

The Braves and Reds split six games in 2011 and were 1-1 this season in a pair of games in Atlanta on May 14-15.