Right-hander Mike Leake aims to break a four-start winless skid and guarantee the Cincinnati Reds of at least a series split when they host the Arizona Diamondbacks in the third game of a four-game set at Great American Ball Park.
The Reds and Diamondbacks are in a duel for the second available wild card playoff berth in the National League. Cincinnati enters game three with a six- game lead on Arizona for the slot, while the Reds trail No. 1 wild card place- holder St. Louis by 1 1/2 games.
The Reds entered the week with a 56-49 lead in the all-time series with the Diamondbacks, but Arizona won two of three when the teams last met in Phoenix from June 21 to 23.
On Tuesday night, Paul Goldschmidt hit a grand slam and Patrick Corbin pitched scoreless ball into the eighth, as Arizona took down Cincinnati, 5-2.
Martin Prado contributed two hits, including a solo homer, for the Diamondbacks, who have won six of their last eight.
Corbin (13-3) eventually went the distance for the second time this season, giving up six hits and two runs with 10 strikeouts. Chris Heisey's two-run shot was the lone offense for the Reds, who have dropped three of five. Tony Cingrani (6-3) departed due to a lower back strain after just 3 2/3 innings, having allowed two hits and one run.
Leake was 10-4 after an 8-3 defeat of San Francisco on July 24, but has gone 0-1 in four starts since - three of which the Reds have ended up losing.
He dropped a 15-2 verdict to St. Louis on Aug. 4 after allowing seven runs in five innings, and he's given up a combined six runs on 19 hits in 19 innings across the other three outings against San Diego (twice) and Milwaukee.
He last faced the Diamondbacks on June 22 in Phoenix and went eight innings, allowing two runs on four hits while getting a no-decision in a game the Reds lost, 4-3.
In four career meetings with Arizona, Leake is 1-0 with a 6.12 earned run average in 25 innings of work.
The Diamondbacks counter with righty Brandon McCarthy, who's also trying to snap a four-start skid.
The 30-year-old won two straight outings on May 18 and 24 to get to 2-3 on the season, but has since dropped consecutive decisions to Texas, Boston, the New York Mets and Pittsburgh to drop to 2-7.
He gave up four runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings of his most recent start, a 6-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Aug. 16.
He's had one career relief outing against Cincinnati and tossed a scoreless, hitless two-thirds of an inning.