The Cincinnati Reds’ offense has gone stagnant, which means another stingy performance from Mike Leake could be even more necessary.
A solid pitching effort bailed out the San Diego Padres in their most recent contest, and they’ll look to send Cincinnati to a fourth straight defeat Monday night.
Cincinnati (59-47) averaged 6.2 runs while winning seven of its previous nine, but it scored just twice while dropping the final three of its four-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
After plating one run each Friday and Saturday, the Reds fell 1-0 on Yasiel Puig’s homer in the bottom of the 11th inning Sunday. Brandon Phillips went 0 for 4 and finished 1 for 13 for the series.
“Our guys are trying the best they can,” manager Dusty Baker said. “I mean, everybody’s talking about our on-base percentage, but you’ve got to have some guys drive them in. We were frustrated all day.”
Cincinnati’s pitching staff, which ranks among the majors’ best with a 3.33 team ERA after striking out a franchise-record 20 on Sunday, allowed only eight earned runs against the Dodgers and now will turn to Leake (10-4, 2.73 ERA) for another solid effort.
Leake has won three straight starts after giving up one run despite a career-worst 12 hits through six innings of an 8-3 win over San Francisco on Wednesday. He also had his second three-hit game of the year but is 2 for 37 in the other 17 games he’s batted.
The right-hander is 8-2 with a 1.97 ERA over his last 13 starts. Leake’s only career start versus San Diego didn’t go so well, though, as he allowed five runs and walked three in 1 2-3 innings of an 11-5 defeat July 30, 2012.
The Reds have won six of the last seven meetings with the Padres, which completed a 6-4 road trip with two series wins after a 1-0 victory over Arizona on Sunday and will play at home for the first time in the second half.
”The guys should be proud about the way they bounced back after the All-Star break,” manager Bud Black said. ”It was a good road trip.”
San Diego (48-58), though, needed a solid pitching performance from Tyson Ross - who allowed three hits in eight innings - to help overshadow its inconsistent offense. It has scored one run or none three times in a five-game stretch, but totaled 22 in winning the other two.
Carlos Quentin drove in his 20th run of July on Sunday, and he’ll look to help provide enough support for Sean O’Sullivan, who looks to build off a solid outing.
O’Sullivan (0-2, 4.73) has made two starts and three appearances since being recalled July 12 after the Padres announced Clayton Richard would have season-ending shoulder surgery. He pitched well in his latest outing but still suffered a 3-1 defeat after giving up three runs - two earned - in 6 1-3 innings Wednesday at Milwaukee.
That start was in place of Jason Marquis, who will undergo Tommy John surgery.
“He’s got a little bit of a bulldog in him,” Black said. “He changed speeds, and he kept the ball down. We just couldn’t get any runs for him.”
The right-hander has never faced the Reds, who have won six of their last eight in San Diego.