The Cincinnati Reds hope a visit from the in-state Cleveland Indians will get them back on track tonight in the opener of a three-game series from Great American Ball Park.
The Reds lost the last two meetings of a three-game set versus the Detroit Tigers and suffered a 7-6 loss in Sunday's series finale. A four-run top of the eighth inning spurred the Tigers to victory, while the Reds lost for the fifth time in seven tries despite hitting three home runs.
Zack Cozart, Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco all went deep, with Frazier finishing with a game-best four RBI for Cincinnati, which is tied with Pittsburgh atop the National League Central -- two games ahead of St. Louis.
Aroldis Chapman was saddled with the loss and a blown save, as he surrendered two runs in an inning of work.
"We were trying to go a fraction with Chapman. We didn't really want to go two innings with him," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "It was a series of bad events tonight."
Homer Bailey got the start and worked a decent 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs and six hits. He also struck out seven batters and issued a pair of walks.
Johnny Cueto will hand pitching duties for the Reds tonight and he is 6-3 with a 2.63 ERA in 12 starts. He had lost two straight and three of four starts until defeating the Pirates in a 5-4 decision last Wednesday, when he permitted three runs in 7 2/3 frames.
Cueto, a right-hander, is 3-1 in five home starts this season and 2-0 with a 2.49 ERA in four career starts against the Indians.
Meanwhile, the Indians won two of three meetings with the Cardinals over the weekend and sit just one-half game behind the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central.
Cleveland got a big hit from Jason Kipnis in Sunday's 4-1 victory at Busch Stadium, as the second baseman went 3-for-4 with a three-run homer to break a 1-1 tie in the top of the ninth.
Ubaldo Jimenez got the start for the Tribe and did not record a decision with seven innings of one-run ball. He added seven K's and no walks. Vinnie Pestano walked three and fanned two batters in the eighth to collect the win and Chris Perez nailed down his 20th save in the ninth.
"It just came down to who could execute late in the game," said Kipnis. "I thought Vinnie being able to hang in there and get those last two guys out saved the game for us and then we were able to get guys on versus Motte and turn it around."
The Indians are 4-2 on a nine-game road trip and will send Jeanmar Gomez to the mound on Tuesday. Gomez put the brakes on a personal two-game slide his previous time out in a 9-6 win at Detroit last Wednesday, as he held on despite giving up six runs and seven hits in five innings.
Gomez is 4-4 with a 4.97 ERA in 11 games (10 starts) this season and has never faced Cincinnati.
Cleveland won five of six meetings with Cincinnati last year.