Following yet another dramatic victory, the Cincinnati Reds head out on the road with plenty of confidence and a surprising perch atop the NL Central.
Given their recent results against their opponents on an upcoming five-game road trip, the Reds could remain in first place a little while longer.
Cincinnati starts that trek with two games in Atlanta and will try to earn its seventh win in eight tries against the Braves on Wednesday night.
For the 10th time this season, the Reds (23-16) won in their final at-bat as Scott Rolen(notes) hit a tying two-run homer off Milwaukee closer Trevor Hoffman(notes) and Joey Votto(notes) followed with an RBI single.
“Down 4-2 in the last inning against arguably the greatest closer of all-time, and to come back to win?” Votto said. “I think that says a lot. I think the guys always feel like we have a good shot.”
Tuesday’s 5-4 victory maintained Cincinnati’s one-half game lead over St. Louis in the Central. The Reds will try to stay there with their fifth straight win and 10th in 11 games against the Braves, a team they swept on the road Sept. 4-6.
The Reds begin their trip with one error in their last 13 games, batting .313 in their last 12 and with a 2.20 ERA over the past 10 contests. After facing Atlanta, Cincinnati finishes with three games against Cleveland, a team it has won 10 of 13 against.
Aaron Harang(notes) (2-5, 6.02 ERA) will try to get that trip off to a strong start with his third win in five starts. A pair of two-run homers cost him a chance at a victory Friday night in a 4-3 defeat to St. Louis.
While Harang has struggled with his consistency this season, he’s 1-0 with a 1.72 ERA in his last three starts against the Braves (19-20). A rain delay last season at home potentially cost him a chance at another victory as he pitched two scoreless innings in a 7-2 home win June 16.
He’ll face an Atlanta team that’s won 11 of 17 and also earned its latest victory in its last at-bat, 3-2 over the New York Mets on Tuesday night. With two runners on in the ninth, Melky Cabrera(notes) hit a high chopper that caused Mets third baseman David Wright(notes) to make a hasty throw past Ike Davis(notes).
While they’ve experienced a run of victories, the Braves’ offense has cooled off somewhat since scoring 34 runs during a season-high four-game win streak that ended last week. Atlanta recorded a 13-1 victory - over Arizona on Sunday - among its last four games but has scored a combined six runs in the other three contests.
Kawakami (0-6, 5.79), who hasn’t won since Aug. 31, is one of two pitchers to drop his first six decisions this season and only Pittsburgh’s Charlie Morton(notes) has more losses (seven). Kawakami hasn’t been helped by the nine runs Atlanta has provided him in seven starts, but he also has a 6.64 ERA in his last four.
The right-hander was tagged for eight runs in 4 2-3 innings in his only career start against the Reds, an 8-2 defeat last April 26.