A solid pitching matchup is on tap Sunday night when Cy Young Award candidate Clayton Kershaw leads the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers against a resurgent Homer Bailey and the streaking Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.
With five victories in their last six games, the Reds come into Sunday's finale of a three-game series 1 1/2 games behind St. Louis for first place in the NL Central. The Reds also hold an eight-game lead on Arizona and Washington for the second wild card spot.
Not only that, but the Reds have an opportunity to deliver a three-game sweep to a team that is on its first three-game losing streak since June 8-10. The Dodgers, who have a magic number of 11 to clinch a division title, haven't lost four in a row since dropping their first eight games of May.
Over his last seven starts, Bailey is 5-0 with a 2.42 ERA. The five-game winning streak is a career best. Also, the right-hander hasn't been scored on in his last two starts, both against the Cardinals, covering a total of 14 1/3 innings.
Bailey is 3-3 with a 4.23 ERA in seven career starts against the Dodgers. That includes a 2-1 loss at Dodger Stadium on July 26, when he faced Kershaw, who fanned eight over an eight-inning performance.
Kershaw, who leads the majors in ERA, gave up a career-high 11 hits against the Rockies on Monday and allowed five runs in five innings, but earned the victory in the Dodgers' 10-8 win. The lefty has won four of his last five starts. He's 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA in seven games versus the Reds.
Todd Frazier singled in the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning as the Reds took a 4-3 win Saturday afternoon.
Brian Wilson (1-1) entered the game for Los Angeles in the 10th and walked Ryan Ludwick. Billy Hamilton came in to pinch-run for Ludwick and proceeded to steal second before scoring the deciding run on Frazier's grounder that got through the infield.
"I've said it before, September is the time to step up or shut up. You forget about what has been going on in the year. You just have to keep striving to be better. It's a long season and people have to understand that. It's been a fun month for the Reds," said Frazier.
Cesar Izturis finished with three hits, including a double, to go with a run scored and an RBI for the Reds.
J.J. Hoover (4-5) was credited with the win after allowing only one hit in the top of the 10th. Cincinnati starter Mat Latos surrendered three runs across seven innings, while Zack Greinke allowed two runs over six frames in the start for Los Angeles.
"We got plenty of big outs, we just didn't get enough hits. We didn't get enough runs," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.
Yasiel Puig stroked a two-run homer and Adrian Gonzalez went 4-for-5 in the setback.
Cincinnati shortstop Zack Cozart extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
The Dodgers won a four-game set versus Cincinnati from July 25-28.