The Cincinnati Reds’ chances of repeating as NL Central champions are slim, but manager Dusty Baker’s club did just earn its first road series victory since June.
A three-game set in south Florida could help the Reds continue those winning ways away from home.
The Reds try to post rare back-to-back road wins when they face the slumping Florida Marlins, who will be looking to rebound from a rough trip Tuesday night.
Cincinnati (62-65) is well out of contention in the division and wild-card races, trailing by double digits in both.
The Reds do arrive in Miami on a positive note after winning two of three in Pittsburgh over the weekend. Prior to a 5-4 victory Sunday, Cincinnati had dropped its last six road series since taking two of three from Tampa Bay from June 27-29.
Cincinnati hasn’t won two in a row on the road since sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers from June 13-15. The poor play away from home and a subpar record in close games have contributed to the club’s fall from contention, as the Reds are 21-27 in one-run contests.
Phillips has gone 11 for 22 with a homer and six RBIs in five games since moving from the cleanup spot to the top of the order. First baseman Joey Votto(notes) is batting .440 with four home runs and nine RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak.
The two players, though, went a combined 6 for 22 with one RBI as Cincinnati dropped two of three to Florida from April 29-May 1.
Johnny Cueto(notes) (9-5, 1.89 ERA) was out with irritation in his right biceps and triceps during that series, but the right-hander has been outstanding since his season debut May 8. He has surrendered one or no runs in five of six outings and owns the lowest ERA in the major leagues among qualifying starters.
“At this point in time of the season, he’s not as worn or tired as a lot of the other pitchers when he missed that one month,” Baker said after Cueto tossed eight-plus innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 victory at Washington on Wednesday. “That was one of the things we were counting on down the stretch.”
Cueto has gone 1-0 with a 5.73 ERA in two starts versus Florida - both in Miami.
Back from a 1-6 trip, the Marlins (57-70) will be looking to get off to better starts. They were outscored 15-1 in the first inning of their last five games - all losses.
“You have to start using your brain and figuring out how to get hitters out,” said manager Jack McKeon, whose team has lost 15 of 17.
Ricky Nolasco(notes) (9-9, 4.25) didn’t have many answers in a 12-5 defeat at Colorado on Wednesday, yielding a career-high 11 runs and 11 hits in three innings. It was the highest run total allowed by a Marlins starter.
Shortstop Edgar Renteria(notes) could play for the first time since Aug. 20 in this series, but the former Marlin might be better off taking the opener off. Renteria (strained groin) has gone hitless in 18 at-bats against Nolasco.
Stanton, though, was 1 for 12 in the series in Cincinnati earlier this season.
Florida has lost 13 of 16 at home since a season-best 5-0 run in Miami.