Given their results over the past week, the Cincinnati Reds are probably thrilled to have reached the end of interleague play. They may not catch a break, though, when they welcome the Milwaukee Brewers to Great American Ball Park on Monday night.
That's because scheduled starter Yovani Gallardo and star outfielder Ryan Braun have been particularly tough to handle for Cincinnati in recent matchups.
The Reds (39-32) have seen their four-game NL Central lead over Pittsburgh cut to one over the last six contests. After getting swept in Cleveland, they returned home and dropped two of three to Minnesota over the weekend, and Aroldis Chapman's struggles continued Sunday.
The hard-throwing closer gave up a two-run homer to Josh Willingham in a 4-3 defeat for his second consecutive blown save and loss. Chapman is 0-4 while allowing eight earned runs in his last seven appearances after going 4-0 and yielding none in his first 24.
"They've got good hitters in the American League. It's a tough week for us and a tough week for (Chapman)," manager Dusty Baker said. "I'm just glad this week is over and we'll start a new week tomorrow."
Baker's team won two of three at Milwaukee (33-39) from May 7-9, but it was Gallardo (6-5, 4.22 ERA) who helped deal the Reds their lone defeat. The right-hander gave up a two-run homer to Jay Bruce and no other runs over six innings of that 8-3 victory, and has allowed three runs or fewer in nine of his last 10 starts overall.
He also struck out a career-high 13 in his last start in Cincinnati, a 10-1 win Sept. 17.
Gallardo, though, will need more help than the Brewers hitters mustered Sunday against the Chicago White Sox. Milwaukee lost 1-0 in 10 innings after averaging 5.8 runs while winning five of their previous eight.
"We had plenty of chances. We're playing all these close ballgames and we're not doing little things to help us win games," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We didn't make all these mistakes last year."
Braun, though, extended the majors' longest active hit streak to 18 games and is batting .347 (26 for 75) with 16 RBIs in that run. He's 15 for 25 (.600) with five homers and nine RBIs during a string of six consecutive multihit performances against the Reds.
Mat Latos (5-2, 5.20) will try to cool him off Monday. Latos hasn't lost in his last 11 starts, but he was hit hard by the Indians last Monday.
The right-hander gave up seven runs - including three homers - over four innings of Cincinnati's 10-9 defeat. He thought Cleveland may have been stealing signs.
"I was a little up in the zone, but I thought I made some pitches they spit on with a runner on second," Latos said. "The outcome changed when we changed up the signs. But I was up in the zone and they hit them."
Latos is 4-0 with a 3.52 ERA in his last seven home starts but is 0-2 with a 4.63 ERA in two career outings against the Brewers. Struggling Milwaukee second baseman Rickie Weeks is 4 for 6 with two homers in their matchups.
The Reds were swept in their most recent home series against the Brewers from Sept. 16-18 after winning 13 of the previous 15 meetings in Cincinnati.
The Reds will have their everyday lineup restored to full strength, as they activated center fielder Drew Stubbs from the disabled list hours before the game. Stubbs went on the DL on June 15 after pulling muscles in his left side during a swing.