Reds-Dodgers Preview

AP - Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers enter their series with the Cincinnati Reds coming off their most encouraging win in weeks. Granted, they haven't had many from which to choose.

The NL Central leaders, meanwhile, arrive in Southern California following one of their most discouraging defeats.

The Dodgers look to build on an impressive offensive showing when they face the struggling Homer Bailey, while the Reds hope to have All-Star Joey Votto back in their lineup as they try to bounce back.

After managing five total runs during a season-high seven-game losing streak, Los Angeles' offense erupted in Sunday night's 8-3 win over the New York Mets. James Loney drove in two runs after totaling one RBI in his previous 14 games for the Dodgers (44-36), who parlayed three New York errors into six unearned runs.

"It was a great game for us, to bust out of our losing streak like that,'' winning pitcher Clayton Kershaw said. "We needed to score some runs, and we took advantage of their mistakes. We went through a rough patch, and hopefully tonight kind of broke us out of it.''

The Dodgers won for just the second time in 13 games to stay within one game of NL West-leading San Francisco. They would have pulled even atop the division had Cincinnati (43-35) been able to hold off the Giants on Sunday.

After the Reds rallied in the top of the ninth to tie San Francisco at 3, the game seemed to be headed to extra innings when the Giants' Angel Pagan hit a deep fly ball to right field with two on and two out. All-Star Jay Bruce misplayed the ball, however, allowing it to fall behind him to hand San Francisco a 4-3 victory and a four-game series split.

"It's embarrassing," Bruce said. "It's a really, really tough way to lose. We battled back, worked our butts off to get back and then that happens. It's a tough one to swallow.''

Votto sat out Sunday's game - the first he's missed all season - with inflammation in his left knee, and it is uncertain if he'll be in the lineup Monday.

Los Angeles would probably prefer if Votto, the major league leader with 33 doubles and a .471 on-base percentage, decided to take a few days off before returning.

Selected Sunday to his third straight All-Star game, Votto has hit safely in 14 of 15 games against the Dodgers since 2010, batting .345 with six homers and 22 RBIs in that span. He is also hitting .467 with two doubles in 15 at-bats against scheduled Los Angeles starter Chad Billingsley (4-7, 4.18 ERA) since 2009.

Billingsley has posted a 6.88 ERA while losing his last three outings, after recording a 1.29 ERA to win his first two June starts. He hasn't lost four consecutive starts since April 2008. The right-hander had some trouble against Cincinnati a year ago, splitting two starts while giving up 11 runs, 17 hits and seven walks in nine innings.

The Dodgers went 2-4 against the Reds last season and have lost the last four games between these clubs at Chavez Ravine, but could be primed for another strong offensive showing against Bailey (5-6, 4.42), who has yielded five runs in each of his last two starts.

Bailey was done after four innings of Wednesday's 8-4 loss to Milwaukee, finishing June 1-3 with a 6.00 ERA. The right-hander has been hit-or-miss in four career starts against the Dodgers, sporting a 0.60 ERA in two wins but a 12.38 ERA in the other two outings.

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