Mike Leake hopes that the breaks go in favor of the Cincinnati Reds once again on Wednesday afternoon when his club concludes a three-game set versus the Philadelphia Phillies.
Cincinnati is looking for a series victory after inching by Philadelphia 2-1 on Tuesday. The Reds and starter Mat Latos caught a big break in the fourth frame when, following a Domonic Brown walk with the bases-loaded to force in the game's first run, Phillies outfielder Nate Schierholtz ripped a sinking drive to center.
Reds outfielder Drew Stubbs fielded the ball on a short hop with his backhand and the umpires ruled it a caught ball. Stubbs then fired to second for an inning-ending double play to finish off the blown call.
"That was a bad break. We would have had a a hit there and a run for sure with the bases loaded. It is kind of the way everything happens for us," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Latos did not give up another run over his seven strong innings and Jay Bruce hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the sixth inning to give the Reds just their fourth victory in their last 18 regular-season meetings with the Phils.
Aroldis Chapman stranded a runner in the ninth to earn his 35th save of the season.
"Time and time again it's been great to know you can go six or seven innings and turn it over to the bullpen and it's going to by automatic lights out for those guys," Latos said.
Bruce, meanwhile, homered for a third time in as many games and has four over his past five games, logging 11 RBI in that span. That surge has helped Cincinnati take its time with bringing first baseman Joey Votto back into the lineup.
Votto has not played since July 15 due to a pair of left knee surgeries, but was activated off the 15-day disabled list before Tuesday's game. He did not start and was available to pinch-hit, but should get the call at first base today as Cincinnati plays caution with the former MVP, who was hitting .342 with 14 homers and 49 RBI prior to his injury.
"I don't think I will see 100 percent until sometime during the offseason," Votto said on the Reds' website. "I'm talking about being able to play baseball, being able to put myself in uncomfortable positions and I would like to think I would get through all the games and continue to recover as I play and move through September, and hopefully all the way to the end of October."
October seems likely for the Reds, who own an 8 1/2-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the NL Central.
Leake, meanwhile, goes after his first career victory versus the Phillies, who drilled him for seven runs over 4 1/3 innings of a win over the right-hander on Aug. 20. Leake yielded solo homers to Ryan Howard and Erik Kratz, falling to 0-2 with an 8.03 earned run average in four career starts against Philly.
The 24-year-old has won both of his starts since, downing Houston on Friday. Leake yielded a pair of solo homers over his six innings, striking out six and moving to 7-8 with a 4.45 ERA in 26 starts this season.
Philadelphia counters with Roy Halladay, who picked up a win over Leake and the Reds last week despite allowing five runs in seven innings of work. Halladay pushed his regular-season record against the Reds to 3-1 with a 3.08 ERA in seven meetings and also no-hit them in the 2010 National League Division Series, which Philadelphia swept.
That win over the Reds was part of a five-start stretch for Halladay in which he went 4-1 and lasted at least seven frames in each outing. That run came to an end for the 35-year-old righty on Friday at the Atlanta Braves as he lasted just 4 2/3 innings and was charged with four runs on seven hits, two homers and four walks.
Halladay did not get a decision in an 8-5 extra-inning victory and is 8-7 with a 4.02 ERA in 20 starts this season.
Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins notched the 2,000th hit of his career in Tuesday's loss, just his club's fourth in the past 12 games overall.