After a rough start to their longest road trip of the season, the Cincinnati Reds look ready to go on an extended roll.
The Reds try for a season-high fourth straight victory away from home when they open a four-game series with the Florida Marlins on Thursday.
Cincinnati (40-55) began its 11-game trip by losing three of four to the New York Mets. The Reds bounced back by earning their first three-game sweep in Atlanta since April 1990 to improve to 20-29 away from home.
Brandon Phillips hit a two-run single in the 15th inning to lift Cincinnati to a 5-4 victory over the Braves in Wednesday’s finale. Adam Dunn had a two-run homer and Ken Griffey Jr. became the 84th player in history with 2,500 hits when he singled in the first.
It was the Reds’ first series win on the road since the end of May, and followed a stretch in which they had gone 5-13 away from Great American Ball Park without winning back-to-back games.
“At this point, every game is nice to get,” Griffey told the Reds’ official Web site. “We try to go out there, get a ‘W’ and turn this thing around. The first half was a little rough on us. We have to be able to do some things in the second half.”
The Reds, winners of eight of their last 11 games, outscored the Braves 21-12 during the series and totaled 37 hits. Their starting rotation posted a 1.83 ERA in the three contests.
Matt Belisle (5-6, 5.02 ERA) tries to help Cincinnati extend its run as he looks to build on a strong start in his last outing. The right-hander held the Mets to one run and nine hits over seven innings Saturday, although he didn’t factor in the decision in the 2-1 defeat.
Belisle is 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA in his last seven starts, with the Reds losing all of those games. He’s 4-1 with a 4.19 ERA in nine road starts, but hasn’t earned a decision in the last four of those outings. Cincinnati dropped all four contests.
Belisle is 0-1 with a 3.55 ERA in five career games against the Marlins (45-50).
The Reds took four of six meetings with the Marlins last season and are 11-4 in their last 15 games in Miami.
Florida was held to three hits Wednesday and got shut out for the first time at home this season, 6-0 by St. Louis to drop the three-game series.
On Thursday, the Marlins will hand the ball to Sergio Mitre (4-4, 2.81), who is trying to win a career-high third straight start. The right-hander went 0-2 in seven starts from May 25-July 2, with the Marlins scoring three or fewer runs in six of those outings.
They’ve scored five runs in each of Mitre’s last two starts, and he’s won both by allowing just four runs over those 14 2-3 innings. He held Washington to two runs and six hits over 7 2-3 innings in a 5-2 win Saturday, striking out three and not issuing a walk.
Mitre threw 61 of his 85 pitches for strikes to win at home with Florida for the first time in 15 career appearances at Dolphin Stadium, including 11 starts. He induced 17 groundouts and three flyouts.
“Mitre did a tremendous job,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “His sinker really had some bite to it.”
Mitre is 0-0 with a 5.40 ERA in six games - one start - against the Reds, but hasn’t faced them since 2005 while with the Chicago Cubs.
Florida second baseman Dan Uggla, batting .143 in July, is expected back in the lineup after sitting out his first game of the season Wednesday. The Marlins also said they’ll activate outfielder Cody Ross from the disabled list before Thursday’s contest after he missed more than two months with a left hamstring strain.