Leake seeks elusive first win against Reds

CINCINNATI -- There was a time when Mike Leake was a promising pitching prospect for the Cincinnati Reds.

On Friday night at Great American Ball Park, Leake will face his former club for the eighth time as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals -- and still in pursuit of his first victory.

Leake will be opposed by Asher Wojciechowski, a key component in the Reds' current rebuilding effort thatfocuses on a stockpile of young arms. He replaces struggling Tim Adleman, who was shifted to the bullpen after posting a 5.42 ERA and giving up 24 home runs in 20 appearances (19 starts).

Wojciechowski pitched well enough in a long relief role to earn an opportunity to start. Since coming back from Triple-A, he has allowed one run in 12 2/3 innings covering six relief appearances.

"Just wanted to get a different look," Reds manager Bryan Price told reporters Wednesday. "Tim has had some really good games this year. He's had some others that have kind of slipped away. The one thing that we really want to see is some evolution."

It might be a temporary move for Wojciechowski as Anthony DeSclafani and Scott Feldman work their way back from the disabled list. But the Reds (44-64) want to evaluate the quality of their young pitchers in the final two months of the season, with even setup man Michael Lorenzen possibly getting a chance to start.

Leake (7-9, 3.29 ERA), the eighth overall pick by Cincinnati in the 2009 draft who spent six seasons with the Reds, will make his 22nd start this season.

He has faced the Reds seven times and hasn't fared well, going 0-4 with a 4.79 ERA. St. Louis has lost all seven of those games. At Great American, Leake is 0-2 with an 8.27 ERA in three starts.

Leake took the loss in his last start, July 29 vs. Arizona, allowing back-to-back home runs to Paul Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez.

It hasn't been a typical season in St. Louis (53-55), which has lost six straight games in which it had an opportunity to creep back to the .500 mark.

Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong is expected back in the lineup Friday night after getting a day of rest duringa 2-1 loss at Milwaukee on Thursday. DeJong was the National League rookie of the month for July, but he went hitless in his first nine at-bats in August.

St. Louis is hoping for some good news on the injury front this weekend.

Center fielder Dexter Fowler is expected to join the club in Cincinnati to continue his baseball activity. He has been on the disabled list since July 25 with a left forearm strain.

Adam Wainwright came through a bullpen session with no issues this week and is scheduled to start Sunday against the Reds.

"In my mind, nothing else I have to prove," Wainwright told the Post-Dispatch. "My legs feel good. My back feels good. My head is clear."

St. Louis has dropped five of its past six games against Cincinnati, and 11 of 17. When the teams met in June, the Reds came away with a four-game sweep at Great American Ball Park.

The highlight of that series was Scooter Gennett's four-home run night in the Reds' 13-1 win in the second game of the series.