Willis might not be healthy enough to take advantage.
Willis (0-6, 5.04 ERA) hasn’t earned a win since June 5, 2010 for Arizona, despite making 12 starts this year for the Reds (74-79). The left-hander has lost both of his starts this month - both to the Chicago Cubs - including a particularly poor outing last Monday when he allowed a season highs of eight runs and nine hits in 3 1-3 innings of a 12-8 defeat.
“I didn’t do anything right tonight,” he said. “My location was bad. My pitch sequence was bad. It was just one of those nights.”
Willis was originally slated to pitch Sunday but developed the back spasms, pressing Matt Maloney(notes) into emergency duty. Cincinnati didn’t give Maloney much help, producing just two hits for the second straight game in an 8-1 defeat to Milwaukee.
The Reds batted .141 and scored five runs while getting swept in the three-game home series.
“It was a very frustrating weekend,” manager Dusty Baker said.
After losing in his return from a brief stint in the minors, the left-hander is 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA in his last three starts. He gave up only a solo homer in six innings of a 5-2 win over major league-leading Philadelphia on Tuesday.
“I’m just trying to get back to where I was and where I should be and pitch the way I’m capable,” Happ said. “I think (Tuesday was) a good indication of that and getting back on the right track and pitching with confidence.”
Happ is 1-1 with a 9.58 ERA in two starts this season against the Reds, while Willis did not get a decision in his lone matchup with Houston (52-100) on Aug. 3.
Willis gave up two runs over six innings before the Astros rallied for a 5-4 win.
This time, Houston will face him on the road, where it’s dropped 29 of its last 37 games.
One of the wins came Sunday, when Clint Barmes(notes) hit a two-run single in the first inning and Houston held on to beat the Cubs 3-2, aided in part by a replay review that overturned a home run by Chicago first baseman Carlos Pena.