Streaking right-hander Homer Bailey can end a career's worth of frustration against the Milwaukee Brewers tonight when the Cincinnati Reds host them in the opener of a three-game weekend series at Great American Ball Park.
A winner in his last three starts while trimming his earned run average by nearly half a run, Bailey is nonetheless 0-for-his career against Milwaukee, losing all five decisions across 10 starts.
In fact, his last loss before the recent three-start win streak came against the Brewers on June 27, when he lasted four innings and allowed five runs on seven hits in an 8-4 defeat.
In the 10 career meetings, he's given up 40 runs in 54 innings.
The subsequent wins - all in July - have come against the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego and St. Louis and have seen Bailey allow eight runs on 21 hits in 22 2/3 innings, dropping the ERA from 4.42 to 3.93.
The Brewers counter with righty Marco Estrada, who's still seeking his first win in his 16th 2012 appearance.
The 29-year-old has made nine starts and six relief outings, but has dropped all three decisions while posting a 4.13 ERA in 56 2/3 combined innings.
His last decision - an 11-3 loss to Minnesota - came May 18 and has been followed by five outings in which Milwaukee is 3-2 and Estrada has given up 15 hits and eight runs in 21 2/3 innings.
He pitched six innings in a no-decision against the Reds on June 26 in Cincinnati and is 1-2 against them in seven lifetime meetings.
On Thursday in Cincinnati, Brandon Phillips clubbed a three-run homer and added a two-run double, helping the Reds close a four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks with a 7-6 comeback win.
Todd Frazier capped a four-run seventh inning with a go-ahead RBI single for the Reds, who were down 6-0 entering the bottom of the sixth. The rally helped Cincinnati salvage a split and grab a half-game lead over idle Pittsburgh for first place in the NL Central.
Cincinnati didn't record a hit off Arizona starter Joe Saunders until there were two outs in the fifth. The Arizona left-hander gave up three straight to open the sixth, as Drew Stubbs and Wilson Valdez both singled before Phillips trimmed the deficit in half by homering to left field.
The Reds completed the comeback and wound up moving ahead in the next frame against the Arizona bullpen. After the first batter was retired quickly, Bryan Shaw (1-4) issued back-to-back four-pitch walks to pinch-hitter Xavier Paul and Stubbs. Valdez then hit a ball past first baseman Paul Goldschmidt that plated Paul. Goldschmidt was charged with an error on the play.
Phillips tied the game with a double to left-center, and Frazier gave Cincinnati the lead with his two-out base hit off Brad Ziegler.
Sean Marshall allowed a pair of two-out hits in the eighth, but preserved the Reds' lead by getting Willie Bloomquist on a ground ball to first.
Aroldis Chapman earned his 15th save of the season with a flawless ninth that featured a pair of strikeouts.
"The way we won, it was something that we didn't expect," Phillips said. "(Saunders) did a good job keeping the ball down and keeping us off balance. The longer we played, the more we realized what he was really doing."
Cincinnati starter Mike Leake was tagged for six runs on 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings. Alfredo Simon (2-1) was credited with the win after giving up one hit over 1 2/3 innings.
On Wednesday in Milwaukee, Corey Hart hit a two-run single during a four-run first inning and the Brewers held on for a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Francisco Rodriguez escaped trouble for the second straight day since being named closer, giving up a run in the ninth inning before pitching out of a bases-loaded jam for his third save.
"Frankie got in a little bit of trouble," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said, "but that's five out of six days (pitching) for him. I'm sure he's about worn out."
The Reds have won four of six games between the teams in 2012, including two of three at Milwaukee in May and two of three in Cincinnati in June.
The Brewers haven't won the season series since 2006.