A pair of National League teams on a roll get together tonight at Citi Field, where the Central Division-leading Cincinnati Reds open a three-game series against the New York Mets.
The Reds will also visit Cleveland for three games on their road trip and just swept the Indians in three games at Great American Ball Park to take the first installment of the Battle of Ohio. The Reds banged out a 12-5 win over the Tribe in Thursday's series finale, as Brandon Phillips recorded three hits, including a home run, and four RBI to lead the way.
Phillips has knocked in 20 runs over his last 17 games.
Joey Votto hit a three-run homer and Ryan Ludwick added a two-run shot for Cincinnati, which leads the NL Central by three games over Pittsburgh and St. Louis and went 5-4 on its homestand. Votto is 20-for-40 (.500) with four home runs and 14 RBI in his last 11 contests. Reds starter Mike Leake avoided a decision by allowing three runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings, while Jose Arredondo picked up the win by getting the final two outs of the fifth inning.
"We needed every run we could get today," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "They can score runs in bunches and we feel very fortunate to have swept them."
Baker will celebrate his 63rd birthday today.
Bronson Arroyo hasn't tasted victory in more than a month and the Reds hope that changes when he takes the mound tonight. Arroyo is 0-3 with a 4.91 earned run average in six starts since a May 7 win at Milwaukee, and did not record a decision in Saturday's 3-2 loss to Detroit.
Arroyo was solid through seven innings and held the Tigers to a pair of runs and five hits while striking out four and walking no batters. The veteran righty is 2-4 in 12 starts this season with a 3.79 ERA. Arroyo has made six starts on the road this season, going 2-3 with a 3.83 ERA. He has fared well in 13 career starts against the Mets as evidenced by his 7-3 record and 3.57 earned run average.
The Mets are coming off a sweep of their own and took all three matchups from the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, culminating with Thursday's 9-6 victory in the series finale.
Johan Santana was barely able to get back into the win column after a disastrous performance at Yankee Stadium, and allowed four runs and six hits in five innings. Five relievers went the rest of the way with Frank Francisco notching his 16th save by getting the final two outs of the game.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis had two homers and three RBI, Lucas Duda also drove in three runs and Jason Bay hit a solo home run for the Mets, who closed out their road trip with a 4-5 record and improved to 7-6 this month. New York outscored the Rays, 29-9, during the series.
"You come in against the best pitching staff in the league and put up 29 runs ... I was really pleased with our offense," said Mets manager Terry Collins.
New York will kick off a nine-game homestand tonight versus the Reds, Orioles and Yankees, and is 4 1/2 games behind Washington for the NL East lead.
The Mets haven't won any of Dillon Gee's last three starts and will send the right-hander to the mound again tonight. Gee is 0-1 with a 3.05 earned run average in his previous three outings and was a tough-luck loser in Saturday's 4-2 setback at Yankee Stadium, where he was tagged for three runs in seven innings to fall to 4-4 with a 4.42 ERA in 12 starts this season.
A 13-game winner from a season ago, Gee has lasted at least 6 2/3 innings in each of his last five trips to the mound. He is only 1-3 in seven home starts in 2012 and has never faced Cincinnati in his career.
New York and Cincinnati split a pair of games at Citi Field this season from May 16-17. The Mets are 6-3 in the previous nine matchups between the clubs.