After Cincinnati bounced back in its most recent series, Arroyo looks to do the same as he seeks his eighth consecutive victory over the Houston Astros on Monday night at Minute Maid Park.
The Reds (53-55), 6 1/2 games back of first-place Milwaukee, went 11-15 in July and are in fourth place with two months left in the season. They ended July on a high note, though, completing a three-game sweep of San Francisco with a 9-0 victory Sunday.
“Joey’s been swinging the bat better, Jay Bruce picked up some RBIs,” manager Dusty Baker said. “They are doing the things we’ve been talking about with runners in scoring position.”
Arroyo (7-9, 5.58 ERA), owner of the second-highest ERA among qualifying pitchers in the NL, is 0-3 with a 7.42 ERA in five starts after allowing five runs in six innings in an 8-2 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday. He hasn’t won since beating Baltimore on June 25.
Facing Houston, however, may be the remedy Arroyo needs.
The right-hander has won his last seven starts versus Houston while posting a 1.74 ERA, throwing two complete games and allowing one run in five of those outings.
He’ll face a new-look lineup against the Astros (35-73), who traded star Hunter Pence(notes) to Philadelphia on Saturday and two-time Gold Glove winner Michael Bourn(notes) to Atlanta prior to Sunday’s 5-4 loss to Milwaukee.
Manager Brad Mills(notes) said he was proud of the way his squad competed following the losses of two key players. The Astros whose 5-4 loss Sunday capped a three-game sweep by the Brewers, went 2-8 on their longest road trip this season.
“It’s been a long trip. A lot of emotions because of what’s happened the last three days. At the same time, I think things are beginning to settle down,” Mills said. “They were attached to Bourn and Pence, there’s no doubt. You see how they played. They went after it and played hard and came up short. They also see the opportunities right in front of them as well.”
Bud Norris(notes) (5-7, 3.39) will look to get Houston back on track. The Astros have won three of Norris’ last four starts, with the right-hander going 1-1 with a 2.88 ERA in that stretch. Norris gave up two runs - one earned - in six innings but didn’t factor into the decision as Houston beat St. Louis 4-2 on Wednesday.
Norris has been roughed up in both of his career starts against the Reds. He allowed five runs in five innings in a loss April 27, 2010, then gave up four runs in six innings while not earning a decision July 23, 2010.
Cincinnati leads the season series 6-3 and took two of three in its last visit to Houston on May 9-11.