MORTON GROVE, Ill. (AP)—The Cincinnati Reds have picked a bad time to move within one defeat of their longest losing streak in 16 months.
Cincinnati (67-67) looks to avoid falling further back in the NL wild-card standings when it opens a three-game set Friday with a San Diego Padres (68-65) team that is also battling for a playoff spot.
The Reds and Padres are among a handful of clubs within a few games of each other in the wild-card picture, but Cincinnati enters this series on a season high-tying six-game skid. The Reds haven’t lost seven in a row since an eight-game slide from April 27-May 6, 2005.
“We’re not playing well and we’re still in it,” manager Jerry Narron said. “That gives us a lot of hope. We’ve talked about it. We just have to get it together in San Diego and get back to doing the little things and concentrating on winning one game at a time.”
Cincinnati fell 7-3 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday to drop to .500 for the first time since it was 1-1 on April 5. The Reds have been outscored 35-15 during the losing streak.
“At the beginning of the year, nobody even put us in contention,” center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. said. “So to be in this position, we’ve obviously done some things right. Look at (the Dodgers). I mean, didn’t they lose like 11 in a row? And now look at them. So, obviously, we could turn it around just like they did. And that’s what you’ve got to look forward to—getting on the right track.”
Bronson Arroyo (10-9, 3.52 ERA) looks to help Cincinnati do just that when he takes the mound in the opener. The right-hander is 1-6 with a 4.84 ERA in his last 13 starts after beginning the season 9-3 with a 2.47 ERA over 15 outings.
Arroyo, one loss shy of tying his career high set last season while with Boston, allowed four runs and eight hits in six innings of a 4-1 defeat at San Francisco on Saturday.
“It was one of those games. You grind. That’s all you can do,” he said. “Go out and try to put a zero on the board and hope things get started. We never got anything going today.”
Arroyo, making his first start at Petco Park, has not faced San Diego since 2004.
The Padres ended a six-game road trip with a 4-1 win over Arizona on Wednesday to improve to 7-3 in their last 10 contests after dropping 12 of their first 18 games in August. San Diego is three games behind first-place Los Angeles in the NL West.
A key to the turnaround has been Dave Roberts, who went 8-for-14 (.517) with two RBIs and two steals in the series against the Diamondbacks. Roberts leads San Diego with a .312 batting average, 11 triples and 40 stolen bases.
“He makes us go,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. “I tell you what, he’s been consistent all year.”
San Diego will start Clay Hensley (8-10, 3.94), who is coming off one of his best outings of the season. The right-hander gave up one run and scattered seven hits in seven innings of a 5-2 win at Colorado on Saturday.
“He sometimes gets locked into sinker, sinker, sinker,” Padres catcher Josh Bard said. “He did a good job throwing his slider. You’ve got to go with the flow.”
Hensley had a 1.52 ERA in 29 2-3 innings over four August starts. He hasn’t won consecutive outings since May 26-31.