Count the Cincinnati Reds as one team glad that the playoffs are a long shot for the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phils seek to continue their recent domination of the NL Central leaders on Tuesday evening, when Kyle Kendrick goes for his fifth straight winning start in the second contest of a three-game series.
The Reds had hoped they had gotten on track versus the Phillies after splitting a four-game series with the club in Philadelphia last week. However, the Phils opened this set with a 4-2 victory, their 14th in the past 17 regular-season meetings.
That does not include Philadelphia's three-game sweep of Cincinnati in the 2010 National League Division Series.
Despite winning for the eighth time in their last 11 contests overall, the five-time defending NL East champions still sit eight games back of a wild card spot, while the Reds own an 8 1/2-game advantage for first place in their division.
While Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto was denied his 18th victory of the season, Philadelphia's Tyler Cloyd picked up the first win of his MLB career in his second start. He allowed one run on four hits with nine strikeouts to no walks over seven innings.
"I kept the ball down and felt a little bit more relaxed," Cloyd said. "My two-seam fastball and change-up were working really well for me today. That helped me out a lot."
Jimmy Rollins added a three-run homer, the 1,999th hit of his career, and John Mayberry Jr. connected on a solo home run.
Jay Bruce went 2-for-4 with a solo homer and two RBI, while Ryan Ludwick had two hits and scored a run as the Reds lost for just the second time in seven tries.
"Well, someone has to get hot, hopefully in the middle of the order," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Jay has been swinging the bat great, and our other guys will come around."
One guy Baker is hoping will come around soon is first baseman Joey Votto, who hasn't played in the majors since July 15 due to a pair of surgeries on his left knee. He played another rehab game on Monday with Triple-A Louisville, which closed out its regular season.
It is unknown if Votto will be activated from the disabled list for this game.
"It's up to him on how he feels," Baker told the Reds' official website on Monday morning. "Joey will be here soon. We just can't say when."
Baker could use the former NL MVP given how Kendrick has pitched as of late. The right-hander has allowed just four runs over 29 1/3 innings of his four- start win streak since getting roughed up for six runs over 3 1/3 innings versus the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 8.
Kendrick followed up that outing with two straight scoreless appearances and is coming off a win over the New York Mets on Thursday. The 28-year-old gave up solo homers to two of the first six batters faced, but yielded only five hits after that over 7 2/3 frames of a 3-2 win.
"Give the team a chance to win and I was able to do that," said Kendrick, who has made 31 appearances this season while going 6-8 with a 4.02 earned run average in 19 starts.
Kendrick is 3-1 with a 5.40 ERA in six career meetings (5 starts) against the Reds, who send young righty Mat Latos to the mound.
Latos snapped a four-start winless streak with a win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday. He held them to a pair of runs on five hits and three walks in seven innings, one start after allowing seven runs in five frames of a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The 24-year-old is 11-4 with a 3.79 ERA in 27 starts this season and seeks his first career win over the Phillies. He has gone 0-2 with a 4.03 ERA in four previous encounters versus them.