Recent struggles are still not a concern for the Cincinnati Reds’ division-winning hopes. The San Diego Padres would like to continue improving their playoff chances by taking advantage of the sputtering NL Central leader.
The Padres will try to regain the NL West lead by continuing their success against Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon at Petco Park.
The Reds (86-68) have a magic number of three to clinch their first Central title since 1995. They lead St. Louis by 6 1/2 games, so losing 12 of 19 isn’t a major worry.
Cincinnati’s struggles may come as a welcome opportunity to San Diego (86-67), which leads the wild-card race by one-half game on Atlanta while trailing West-leading San Francisco by one-half game.
The Padres visit San Francisco for the final three games of the regular season next weekend.
Until then, they’d like to continue beating the Reds after winning the opener of this three-game set 4-3 on Friday, their ninth win in the last 11 meetings. San Diego has won five straight and 10 of 13 matchups at Petco.
“These guys are fighting tooth and nail to try and get into the playoffs,” said Reds right-hander Bronson Arroyo(notes), who didn’t get a decision Friday. “They have a little more pressure on them than we do on our end. It definitely was a playoff-type atmosphere.”
Those outings are part of a five-game stretch that has seen the right-hander go 1-4 with a 5.10 ERA.
Garland’s troubles continued early Sunday, as he gave up two runs in the opening inning before allowing two more in the next six while walking three in seven innings of a 4-1 loss at St. Louis.
“I made a few adjustments on a few guys, but besides that I’m going to go at it the same way until you prove me wrong,” Garland said.
He’s 1-2 with a 4.58 ERA in three starts against the Reds, but hasn’t faced them since a loss with Arizona on July 1, 2009.
Garland hasn’t won 15 games in season since setting career highs of 18 in 2005 and 2006 with the White Sox.
It’s unclear if Garland will have to contend with Joey Votto(notes), who was held out of the lineup for a third consecutive game Friday due to a sinus infection. The All-Star first baseman struck out in the ninth as a pinch-hitter.
Votto is second in the league with a .323 average, tied for second with 35 homers and third with 106 RBIs, giving him a chance at the Triple Crown.
He’s 2 for 5 against Garland.
The rookie left-hander is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in his last three starts, getting no offensive support in his last two.
Wood’s teammates didn’t provide much help defensively either Sunday, committing two errors while he allowed two earned runs and four hits in six innings of a 4-3 loss at Houston.