The Ohio rivals continue their three-game interleague series at Jacobs Field on Saturday, when the Indians look to extend their home win streak to nine.
Cleveland (25-14) is 15-3 at home, where it has won 13 of its last 14 games, including the first four of its current seven-game homestand. The Indians have outscored opponents 33-12 while batting .331 as a team in the last four contests.
Center fielder Grady Sizemore has led the way, batting .556 (10-for-18) on the homestand. He went 4-for-5 with a homer, three runs scored and three RBIs in Cleveland’s 9-4 win in Friday’s series opener.
“I’m not doing anything different, really,” said Sizemore, who is a .361 hitter in 37 career interleague games. “It’s only a couple games. I want to build off this and have even more consistent at-bats.”
Friday’s loss was the Reds’ eighth in their last nine road games, and their 13th in 16 games overall. They have been outscored 39-17 to go 1-6 on their current nine-game road trip.
“We’re just trying to make sure we nip this in the bud,” first baseman Scott Hatteberg told the team’s official Web site. “We’re not playing to our potential. We’re trying not to panic and get back on track.”
The Reds (16-26) are struggling despite the strong play of Brandon Phillips, who extended his hitting streak to 20 games with a double in the fifth inning Friday. The second baseman is batting .348 (31-for-89) during the streak, the longest by a Cincinnati player since Sean Casey hit in 21 straight games in 2000.
Phillips, who was traded from Cleveland to Cincinnati last season for minor league pitcher Jeff Stevens, is 10-for-24 (.417) in seven games against his former club.
Cincinnati starter Matt Belisle (3-3, 4.38 ERA) looks to bounce back from his worst outing of the year. He was tagged for seven runs in five innings of the Reds’ 7-1 defeat at San Diego on Monday. Cincinnati has lost each of Belisle’s last three starts after going 4-1 with him on the mound to start the season.
In two career relief appearances against Cleveland, the right-hander has allowed three runs and four hits in two innings.
The Indians, who are going for their first nine-game home winning streak since May 27-June 19, 2005, send Jeremy Sowers (0-3, 6.56) to the mound.
Sowers has made seven starts in 2007, but is still looking for his first win since Sept. 5. He has allowed six runs in each of his last two starts, including a five-inning outing in the Indians’ 8-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on May 10.
He lost his only career start against the Reds, giving up four runs in five innings of the Indians’ 4-2 defeat last June 25.