Aurilia looks to stay hot at the plate when the Reds continue their three-game interleague series at Detroit Saturday.
Aurilia had been out since May 4 with a strained right groin, but returned to the lineup Friday and homered in his first at-bat in Cincinnati’s 9-4 win over Detroit. His drive helped Cincinnati end Detroit’s seven-game winning streak—its longest since 2003.
“It felt good just to get on the field again,” Aurilia said. “It felt better to put some runs on the board.”
Aurilia was hitting .295 with five homers in 23 games before his injury. He batted .282 with 14 homers and 68 RBIs last season for the Reds.
“There aren’t a lot of guys in baseball who could step right back into the middle of the lineup and do that,” manager Jerry Narron said. “We’ve really missed him in the last two weeks.”
Adam Dunn also homered for the Reds (25-17), who have won two straight since after a five-game losing streak and trail St. Louis by 1 1/2 games for the NL Central lead.
Felipe Lopez extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a single to lead off the game. He is 25-for-56 (.446) with two homers and 10 runs over the 13-game run.
“To be honest, I’m happier about this game than I have been after others,” manager Jim Leyland said. “We battled our tails off, but they just wouldn’t let us get back into the game.”
Mike Maroth (5-2, 2.18 ERA) will look to help the Tigers bounce back. The left-hander allowed one unearned run and seven hits in six innings of Sunday’s 3-2 win over the Cleveland Indians. His ERA ranks third in the majors, but Maroth said he isn’t concerned with his stats.
“I just try to take one game at a time,” said Maroth, who has never faced Cincinnati. “If I start jumping ahead, then I start overlooking games and try to predict and evaluate what I need to do. I don’t want to get involved in that, because it takes me away from what I need to do out on the field.”
Left-hander Eric Milton (2-1, 6.50) will come off the disabled list to start for Cincinnati. Milton had arthroscopic surgery on April 24 to remove damaged cartilage in his left knee and has not pitched since April 18, when he was pounded for nine runs and eight hits—including three homers—in 4 1-3 innings of a 12-6 loss to the Florida Marlins.
Milton threw 30 pitches in two scoreless innings in Monday’s Hall of Fame exhibition game against Pittsburgh.
“I don’t feel any different,” he said the following day. “Jerry wanted to know if I was ready to throw 100 pitches. I can go out there and throw 120 if I needed to. It’s a matter of taking the ball. When I’m out there, I think I can help this team.”
Milton is 6-4 with a 3.61 ERA in 19 career starts against Detroit.