The Reds could have a chance to clinch their first Central title since 1995 in their road finale, but San Diego is in more desperate need of a victory amid the NL’s crowded playoff chase.
The Padres (87-67) remain engaged in close races with San Francisco and Atlanta, with two playoff spots available for the NL West champion and the wild card winner.
San Diego has improved its position by winning four of its last five, including a pair of 4-3 wins over the Reds on Friday and Saturday. Chris Denorfia(notes), who entered the game as a defensive replacement, ended Saturday’s game with an RBI double in the ninth inning off hard-throwing Cincinnati rookie Aroldis Chapman(notes).
“I’ve been trying to stay ready and do the best I can for our situation,” Denorfia said. “I know what we’re playing for and there’s got to be guys in the lineup producing results.”
Despite losing their last three, the Reds (86-69) are all but certain to end their 15-year playoff drought. Their magic number to win the Central is two, and Cincinnati could wrap up the division Sunday with a win and a St. Louis loss at Chicago.
They may also be eager to have some success against San Diego before a potential NL division series meeting. Cincinnati has lost four of five to the Padres this year and six in a row at Petco dating back to 2008.
“To be able to come up big in those first two games, you don’t know what it does to them mentally if we do play them in the playoffs,” San Diego right-hander Jon Garland(notes) said. “It’s just big to start the homestand and get us off to a good start.”
MVP candidate Joey Votto(notes) is certainly doing his best to help the Reds. Votto, who ranks among the NL’s top three in each Triple Crown category, returned to the lineup Saturday after missing three starts due to a sinus infection and hit his 36th homer.
The Reds have won seven of Bailey’s eight starts since he returned from the disabled list Aug. 15. Bailey has just two wins in that stretch, but he has posted a 3.88 ERA and four quality starts.
After Bailey held Milwaukee to two runs in six innings Monday, Cincinnati used a late rally to win 5-2.
He’ll need to be even better if San Diego’s Clayton Richard(notes) (13-8, 3.53) matches his most recent outing. The left-hander scattered eight hits to pick up his first career shutout in Tuesday’s 6-0 win over the Dodgers.
“The players know that’s in there in Clayton,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “He doesn’t wear down. He has a nice presence during the entire game.”
Richard has a 1.42 ERA while posting five consecutive quality starts at home, but the Padres have totaled two runs while losing Richard’s last three starts at Petco.