Perhaps a road trip is all Steve Finley needed to break out of his slump.
Finley hopes to resume his hot hitting away from home as the Arizona Diamondbacks shoot for their 16th straight win over the Cincinnati Reds when the teams continue a three-game series at Great American Ball Park.
Finley hit his 19th homer of the season Tuesday, and Curt Schilling struck out 11 over six sharp innings as the Diamondbacks opened a seven-game road trip with a 2-0 win over the Reds.
“It wasn’t a horrible pitch,” Finley said of the homer. “I was just able to get my hands inside it.”
Finley entered Tuesday’s game mired in a 15-game slump, during which he was batting just .196 (10-for-51). The drought followed a stretch in which he hit .385 (52-for-135) over 30 games with nine homers and 30 RBIs.
However, Finley has been hitting well on the road—batting .343 (35-for-102) over his last 25 games away from Bank One Ballpark.
Surging Arizona has won three straight and six of seven, climbing to within 1 1/2 games of the NL wild card-leading Florida Marlins.
The Diamondbacks own a 15-game winning streak against the Reds—the longest current string by any major league team against another. Cincinnati hasn’t beaten Arizona since May 7, 2001, its longest skid against one team since dropping 16 in a row to the Chicago Cubs from 1944-45.
Sean Casey had two hits for the slumping Reds, who have lost seven of eight and haven’t scored in 19 innings. They were shut out for the second consecutive game Tuesday and third time in four contests.
“We just can’t seem to get a run when we need it,” said interim Reds manager Dave Miley, who fell to 5-8 since taking over for the fired Bob Boone on July 29.
STANDINGS: Diamondbacks - 2nd place, 10 GB, NL West. Reds - 5th place, 11 1/2 GB, NL Central.
DIAMONDBACKS PROBABLE STARTER: Miguel Batista (7-6, 2.92 ERA). Batista is 0-2 with a 3.60 ERA since tossing a five-hitter in a 6-0 win over San Diego on July 18. The right-hander allowed four runs and eight hits over six innings of Arizona’s 5-4, 10-inning win over Montreal on Thursday, striking out three without a walk. Batista is 3-0 with a 2.62 ERA in 12 career appearances against Cincinnati, including two starts.
REDS PROBABLE STARTER: John Bale (0-0, 1.35 ERA). Promoted from Triple-A Louisville on July 30, Bale hasn’t received a decision is his first two starts. The 29-year-old left-hander allowed five hits over 4 2-3 scoreless innings of Cincinnati’s 1-0, 12-inning loss to San Diego on Friday, walking two and striking out one. He makes his first career start against Arizona.
SEASON SERIES: Diamondbacks, 4-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Diamondbacks - RHP Batista is just 1-5 with a 3.18 ERA against NL West opponents, but 6-1 with a 2.79 ERA against everyone else. … OF Gonzalez has reached base safely in 28 consecutive games. … RHP Matt Mantei struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 16th save in 18 opportunities Tuesday. He has converted on a season-high nine straight chances. Reds - 1B Casey is hitting .360 (9-for-25) over his last seven games. … Cincinnati made two errors Tuesday and has committed a major league-worst 110 this season. … The Reds traded LHP Kent Mercker to Atlanta on Tuesday for a player to be named.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Diamondbacks - 28-32 on the road; Reds - 27-32 at home.
INJURIES: Diamondbacks - 1B Mark Grace (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Koplove (shoulder), 15-day DL. Reds - OF Austin Kearns (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Jose Acevedo (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Ryan Dempster (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Jimmy Haynes (back), 15-day DL; RHP Luke Prokopec (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Ken Griffey Jr. (ankle), 60-day DL.