Cincinnati (66-61) at San Francisco (62-65)

Cloudy Currently: San Francisco, CA
Temp: 61° F
  • Game info: 10:15 pm EDT Thu Aug 24, 2006
  • TV: FSOH, FSBA
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Cincinnati Reds’ quest to catch the NL Central leader or hold on to the wild-card lead heads to the West Coast on Thursday as they begin a four-game set with the resurgent San Francisco Giants.

This 10-game road trip is the longest of the season for Cincinnati (66-61) and comes entirely against NL West teams, with three games apiece against Los Angeles and San Diego next week. In their only series against any of those teams this season, the Reds suffered a three-game sweep at home to the Dodgers from Aug. 1-3.

The only other time this year Cincinnati played more than two consecutive series on the road came from May 29-June 7, when it went a combined 7-2 against division foes Chicago, Houston and St. Louis.

“I hope we play in front of some big crowds,” said Reds manager Jerry Narron of this road trip. “Every team we play feels they have a chance at the postseason. It should be exciting.”

The Reds certainly have a good shot at the postseason, sitting within one game of the Central-leading Cardinals and one game ahead of San Diego for the wild card.

San Francisco (62-65) has climbed out of the NL West basement and moved within four games of the first-place Dodgers by winning eight of 10, including a three-game sweep of Arizona this week.

The Giants follow this series with their own nine-game road trip, which ends with three games at Cincinnati.

Eric Milton (8-7, 5.28 ERA) hopes to bounce back from his shortest outing of the season when he starts for the Reds. He was pulled after four-plus innings on Saturday, allowing six runs and nine hits in Cincinnati’s 14-7 win over Pittsburgh.

The left-hander had gone 2-1 with a 3.20 ERA over his previous four outings.

Milton, who is 5-1 in eight road starts this year, is 1-0 in three career outings against the Giants despite a 7.94 ERA.

Left-handed batters are hitting .205 against Milton this season, but he’s never faced arguably the best one of all-time—Barry Bonds.

Bonds enters this series having recorded back-to-back multihit games for the first time since Aug. 20-21, 2004. He had two singles and an RBI in Wednesday’s 7-6 victory over the Diamondbacks, and hit his 725th career homer in the series opener.

Maybe the hottest Giants hitter is Ray Durham, whose three-run homer Wednesday extended his hitting streak to 13 games. He’s batting .392 (20-for-51) with 12 RBIs during that run, but is only a career .143 hitter (4-for-28) against Milton.

San Francisco is slated to give Brad Hennessey (5-3, 3.38) his ninth start of the season and third in a row despite a horrendous outing Saturday against the Dodgers. He barely escaped the first inning and failed to record an out in the second, allowing seven runs and seven hits in a 14-7 defeat.

“Everything I threw, they hit,” Hennessey said. “Everything they saw, they hit. I can’t blame it on anything.”

It was the second loss in eight starts this season for Hennessey, who had given up two runs in 16 2-3 innings over his previous three starts.

The right-hander’s most recent performance came at home as his struggles continued at AT&T Park, where he is 0-2 with a 5.46 ERA in 14 appearances this year. He has never faced Cincinnati.

Two of the hottest hitters Hennessey will face also are two of the Reds’ oldest. Former Giant Rich Aurilia, who turns 35 next month, is 10-for-19 (.526) over the last five games, and 36-year-old Ken Griffey Jr. is batting .433 (13-for-30) with seven walks over his last nine.

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Starting Pitchers

E. Milton LAD vs. B. Hennessey Hou
8-8 Record 5-6
5.19 ERA 4.26
90 K 42
42 BB 42
1.34 WHIP 1.35

Scoreboard

Thursday, Aug 24