The Cincinnati Reds finally snapped their lengthy losing streak in Los Angeles to stay perfect on their road trip. With the way Johnny Cueto(notes) has pitched away from home, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them stay that way.
Cueto returns from his suspension Saturday night looking to build on his impressive road resume, but outfielder Manny Ramirez(notes) could be back for the Dodgers, who will try to spoil the Reds’ attempt at their first eight-game winning streak in more than four years.
Cincinnati (71-51) felt good about itself coming off consecutive sweeps of Florida and Arizona, but had to end a 12-game slide in Los Angeles on Friday to extend its streak.
The Reds made it look easy as they moved 4 1/2 games ahead of St. Louis atop the NL Central. Brandon Phillips(notes) drove in all three runs and Homer Bailey(notes) had his second straight fantastic start to lift Cincinnati to a 3-1 victory at Chavez Ravine.
“I’m very happy that we ended this drought, because coming here is not fun,” Phillips said after upping his average at Dodger Stadium to .451.
A win Saturday would give the Reds their first eight-game streak since May 31-June 8, 2006.
The Reds haven’t won a road series against the Dodgers (62-61) since a three-game sweep in 2004, but they’ll have the right pitcher on the mound to help them do so. Cueto (11-3, 3.38 ERA) is 6-1 away from home with a 2.69 ERA that’s ninth-best in the majors.
He’s allowed one earned run or fewer in his last six road starts, and is 3-0 with a 0.55 ERA outside of Cincinnati since June 23.
Cueto hasn’t pitched since Aug. 10, when he allowed five runs over 5 1-3 innings of an 8-4 loss to St. Louis marred by a first-inning brawl. The right-hander was suspended seven games for kicking at players as he was pushed against the backstop during the fracas.
“We really missed Cueto, but we’re happy that he’s pitching tomorrow,” Phillips said.
Manager Dusty Baker doesn’t expect Cueto to be rusty.
“This guy trains, this guy runs,” Baker told the Reds’ official website. “This year’s success - when you ask a kid to do something and express what benefits he may have from it and then has success from it - it’s easier for him to keep doing it.”
Cueto has never faced Ramirez, but may get to Saturday. The 12-time All-Star, out with a strained right calf since July 16, could return after going 0 for 2 with Class A Inland Empire on Friday.
“We’ll see how he feels,” manager Joe Torre told the Dodgers’ official website. “And then we’ll make a decision. It’s possible.”
A lack of run support has hurt Billingsley as he’s gone 0-2 with a 2.10 ERA in his last four starts. He held Atlanta to one run over seven innings Monday - striking out eight - but watched the bullpen implode en route to a 4-3 loss.
Billingsley is 3-2 with a 3.34 ERA in six career starts against the Reds, but he’ll want to forget this season’s outing. The right-hander gave up seven runs - four earned - over three innings April 20, though he didn’t get a decision.