Slumping veteran Bronson Arroyo gets the call to protect the Cincinnati Reds' slim divisional lead tonight when they host the Detroit Tigers in game one of a three-game interleague series at Great American Ball Park.
The Reds enter with a two-game edge in the National League's Central Division after losing two of three to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pittsburgh is tied for second place with defending World Series champion St. Louis.
In the American League Central, the Tigers have been a springtime disappointment and sit third in the division - six games in back of the front- running Chicago White Sox.
Detroit won the Central last season by 15 games over the Cleveland Indians.
Arroyo, a 35-year-old native of Key West, Fla., was 2-1 with a 2.75 earned run average through his initial six starts of 2012 after a 6-1 defeat of the Milwaukee Brewers on May 7,
He's 0-3 in five starts since, however, and has seen the ERA swell to 3.91.
In his last start, on June 3 at Houston, Arroyo allowed five runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings of a 5-3 loss.
In the winless skid, he's given up 18 runs on 40 hits in 29 2/3 innings.
Arroyo is 2-1 in five starts against the Tigers and has allowed a .287 batting average.
He's opposed by 23-year-old righty Rick Porcello, who faces the Reds for the first time in his 101st major-league start.
Porcello began the season with three wins in his initial five decisions but has also slumped badly, not winning since a 3-1 defeat of the White Sox on May 6.
In five starts since, he's pitched six innings just twice and has allowed 19 runs and 38 hits in 26 1/3 innings while going 0-2.
Porcello won a career-best 14 games last season while carrying a 4.75 ERA and allowing a .292 opposition batting average in a career-high 182 innings.
On Thursday in Detroit, Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer while Brennan Boesch had an RBI double and scored twice as the Tigers edged the Indians, 7-5, in the finale of a three-game set at Comerica Park.
Prince Fielder, Delmon Young and Don Kelly also drove in runs for the Tigers, who stopped a three-game skid.
Casey Crosby (1-1) gave up three runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings to pick up his first career win.
Crosby lasted just 3 1/3 innings in his major-league debut after giving up six runs on four hits in a 9-4 loss to the Yankees June 1.
"I hope to get better after this one also," Crosby said. "Even though I got the win, you're not going to expect to get seven runs every outing from your team. It's great when it does, and this team is capable of it every night, but you want to help them out as much as you can."
Jose Valverde tossed a perfect ninth to pick up his 10th save.
In Cincinnati, Michael McKenry knocked in the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates took a 5-4 decision over the Reds in the finale of a three-game series.
Joey Votto ripped a double to start the home half of the 10th and Jay Bruce was intentionally walked two batters later, putting the potential winning run on.
Chris Resop got Todd Frazier to foul out and caught Ryan Ludwick looking at strike three to earn his second career save and make a winner out of Joel Hanrahan (3-0), who allowed the tying home run to Ludwick in the ninth.
"We had chances big time, we just didn't get it done." Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Reliever Aroldis Chapman allowed his first earned run of the season and snapped a streak of 29 consecutive appearances without allowing an earned run. He also had not allowed back-to-back hits since Aug. 20, 2011.
Ludwick had two home runs and Jay Bruce had a solo shot and an RBI base hit for the Reds, losers in three of their last four.
The Tigers lead the interleague series, 8-7, and have won two of three games in four straight matchups (1999, 2000, 2001, 2006) since the Reds swept them in three straight in 1998.