The payroll-slashing Cincinnati Reds are playing some of their best baseball of the season.
The Reds look to win their fourth straight when they take on the San Francisco Giants in the middle game of their series at Great American Ball Park.
Cincinnati won for the sixth time in seven games with Friday’s 5-3 come-from-behind victory. Barry Larkin homered for the first time since April, and Juan Castro hit a tiebreaking shot in the eighth. Castro’s two-out, two-run homer gave the Reds their major league-leading 26th victory in their final at-bat.
The Reds are overcoming one of the most gut-wrenching weeks in their history by winning four games in their final at-bat. Cincinnati fired manager Bob Boone, general manager Jim Bowden and two coaches Monday before trading away some of its top players.
The club dealt closer Scott Williamson to Boston on Tuesday, outfielder Jose Guillen to Oakland on Wednesday and All-Star third baseman Aaron Boone and left-handed reliever Gabe White to the New York Yankees on Thursday.
“Obviously, the last few days have been busy,” interim manager Dave Miley said. ”(Friday) was more normal than usual.”
The Giants, who made a significant addition to their club with Thursday’s acquisition of Sidney Ponson, won nine in a row after the All-Star break but have dropped four of six since.
STANDINGS: Giants - 1st place, NL West. Reds - 5th place, 9 GB, NL Central.
GIANTS PROBABLE STARTER: Jesse Foppert (7-8, 5.22 ERA). Foppert, who is 3-1 with a 6.27 ERA over his last four starts, is coming off one of his best outings of the season. The 23-year-old right-hander allowed two runs—one earned—and six hits, while striking out seven and walking two, over 6 2-3 innings in Monday’s 6-2 win over San Diego. Foppert won his lone career start against Cincinnati, allowing four runs and three hits over 5 1-3 innings in a 9-6 victory on May 3.
REDS PROBABLE STARTER: Josh Hall (no record). Hall will be recalled from Double-A Chattanooga to make his major league debut. The 22-year-old right-hander is 33-30 with a 3.61 ERA in 92 career minor league appearances but has never pitched above Double-A. He is 6-8 with a 3.20 ERA with one complete game in 20 starts at Chattanooga this season.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 2-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Giants - Though San Francisco committed two errors Friday, it has an NL-low 52 this season. … 1B J.T. Snow was out of the Giants’ lineup for the sixth straight game because of a strained groin. His status for Saturday’s contest is uncertain. … LHP Kirk Rueter, who was scratched from his scheduled start Thursday, went back on the 15-day DL Friday with a strained shoulder. Reds - RHP Ryan Dempster, who went on the 15-day DL Thursday, will have surgery next week to remove a bone chip from his elbow, likely ending his season. … Of the Reds’ 50 wins, 33 have come by two runs or fewer, including 22 by one run. … The Reds announced Friday that CF Ken Griffey Jr. will have surgery Monday on his right shoulder. Griffey, out for the season with an ankle injury, dislocated his shoulder while trying to make a diving catch on April 5 but returned after 5 1/2 weeks before tearing a tendon in his right ankle on July 17.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Giants - 31-25 on the road; Reds - 26-30 at home.
INJURIES: Giants - 1B Snow (groin), day-to-day; RHP Rueter (shoulder), 15-day DL; C Alberto Castillo (wrist), 15-day DL; OF Marvin Benard (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Robb Nen (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Chad Zerbe (oblique), 15-day DL. Reds - OF Kearns (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Dempster (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Scott Sullivan (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Luke Prokopec (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Griffey (ankle), 60-day DL.