The Cincinnati Reds' latest surge has helped put them in a solid position for a third playoff berth in four years, but they've had some trouble with Khris Davis and the Milwaukee Brewers recently
Cincinnati looks to avoid a fourth loss to Milwaukee in nine days when these clubs continue their three-game series Saturday night at Great American Ball Park.
The Reds (73-56) have won 12 of 17 and hold a seven-game edge on Arizona for the NL's second wild-card spot. That run also has helped tightened the Central Division race, though the Brewers have presented quite a challenge lately.
Milwaukee (56-72) has beaten the Reds three times in the last four meetings, including Friday's 6-4 win. Davis hit a pair of two-run homers and is batting .467 with five homers during a nine-game hitting streak.
The rookie left fielder has filled in nicely for Ryan Braun, who Thursday apologized for using performance-enhancing drugs and the ensuing scandal.
"I don't see any flaws in him right now,'' manager Ron Roenicke said of Davis. "He's really doing a good job.''
Reds manager Dusty Baker has taken notice, too. Davis is 8 for 14 with four homers and eight RBIs in five games against his club.
"That Davis is the best young player I've seen come into the league this year," Baker said.
Brandon Phillips hit a solo homer and Zack Cozart drove in two runs for Cincinnati, which had won five of the first six home meetings with Milwaukee prior to Friday.
The Reds' most recent success against the Brewers in the last week-plus came Sunday, when they earned a 9-1 victory at Miller Park to split a four-game series. Cincinnati scored five times in the second inning off Wily Peralta, who will be on the mound again Saturday.
Peralta (8-13, 4.60 ERA) has made four starts against the Reds this season with varying results. His best start was a three-hitter in a 2-0 win July 9 for his first career shutout, but he then allowed a season-worst seven runs in 4 1-3 innings Sunday.
The right-hander, who is 1-4 with a 5.93 ERA in his last five starts overall, is 1-3 with a 5.11 ERA against Cincinnati on the year.
"Hopefully he bounces back and the next one is a good one," Roenicke said. "He'll go on a good run and have two or three good starts, and you think he's just going to take off and do that every time and he doesn't. The inconsistencies we have seen from him (are troubling)."
Peralta gave up four runs in six innings of a 5-1 loss to the Reds on May 12, with Bronson Arroyo picking up the win for Cincinnati.
Arroyo (12-9, 3.40), who again opposes Peralta, has won three straight starts while posting a 1.80 ERA after yielding three runs in six innings of Monday's 5-3 victory over Arizona despite not feeling his best.
"Some days you go run a marathon, and a third of the way in, you're like, 'I don't know how I'm going to make it to the end of this road.' That's the way I felt," Arroyo said. "I got some strikeouts that I really needed and the offense put up enough runs to give me that cushion."
The right-hander scattered five hits in 6 2-3 scoreless innings to beat Milwaukee in May, then gave up a season-worst 12 hits but only three runs in 7 2-3 frames of Cincinnati's 4-3, 10-innings win over the Brewers on June 14.