Back on the winning track and with a deeper bullpen following the trade deadline, the Cincinnati Reds appear primed for a strong stretch run.
The Reds seek a second straight victory and 12th in 13 games Wednesday night when they play the third of four against the visiting San Diego Padres.
Jonathan Broxton is expected to be in uniform for this contest after the Reds (62-41) acquired him from Kansas City on Tuesday for two minor leaguers. Broxton has 107 career saves, including 23 in 27 chances this season for the Royals, but will fill a set-up role in Cincinnati with Aroldis Chapman currently dominating as the closer.
"It gives us another power arm in the bullpen," manager Dusty Baker said. "You can always use more pitching. You never know what's going to happen."
The Padres (44-61) are all too familiar with Broxton, whose 17 saves - in 17 opportunities - against them while with the Los Angeles Dodgers remain his most versus any opponent.
San Diego didn't fare any better Tuesday against Chapman, who retired the side in order in the ninth inning to convert his 14th consecutive save chance in Cincinnati's 7-6 victory. Ryan Ludwick homered, singled and had four RBIs for the Reds, who bounced back after having their 10-game winning streak snapped with an 11-5 defeat in Monday's series opener.
The NL Central leaders finished July with a 19-7 record, and improved to 12-3 while first baseman Joey Votto has been recovering from knee surgery. Ludwick is batting .356 with five homers during those 15 games.
"He's got his swagger back," Baker said. "He's feeling it. You need somebody hot in the middle of your lineup."
Cincinnati is averaging exactly seven runs in its last four games, and may have a good chance to keep the strong offense going Wednesday with Kip Wells (2-3, 3.82 ERA) set to take the ball for San Diego. The right-handed journeyman, who didn't make it back to the majors until June this season after the Reds released him in April 2010, is 2-11 with a 4.95 ERA in his career versus Cincinnati.
Wells didn't pitch poorly against the Reds at home July 6, yielding three runs in six-plus innings, but got charged with a 6-0 loss as Bronson Arroyo (6-6, 3.76) pitched a three-hitter.
Arroyo, who will oppose Wells again Wednesday, is now seeking his first three-game winning streak since June 13-25, 2011. After beating Milwaukee to notch his first home win of the season July 21, Arroyo scattered six hits and didn't walk a batter over 6 2-3 innings of Friday's 3-0 victory at Colorado.
The right-hander is 3-1 with a 2.82 ERA in his last six starts.
Wells is also coming off a solid outing, having allowed two runs in six innings of a 7-2 win Friday at Miami.
Losers of three of four and well outside of the playoff race, the Padres opted to stand pat at the trade deadline rather than deal away any of their veteran talent.
"You get tired of hearing about it and you want to have closure," San Diego third baseman Chase Headley, who had been the subject of trade rumors, told the team's official website. "Now ... at least you know where you're going to be."
Headley has two hits and five walks through the first two games of this series, but is 3 for 18 with six strikeouts and no walks against Arroyo.
- San Diego Padres
- Cincinnati Reds
- San Diego
- Jonathan Broxton