As well as the Cincinnati Reds have played of late, it still might not be good enough to end their recent struggles against the Colorado Rockies.
With their longest winning streak of the season snapped, the NL Central-leading Reds look to avoid a fourth straight loss to the Rockies on Saturday night at Great American Ballpark.
Cincinnati (25-20) had won six in a row before Todd Helton homered and drove in three runs to help Colorado to a 6-3 victory Friday. Though the Reds still own a one-half game lead over St. Louis in the Central, they have dropped three in a row and 10 of 13 against the Rockies (17-27).
Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker, however, is confident his team can bounce back.
"You can't get greedy," Baker said. "We won six straight. Now we have to start a new streak.
"These guys have been tough on us in the past because they can hit."
Reds starting pitchers posted a 2.41 ERA during the winning stretch, but Johnny Cueto was roughed up for five runs in 4 2-3 innings Friday.
Trying to help the Reds rebound, Mike Leake (1-5, 5.32 ERA) takes the mound Saturday looking to build off his best start of the season. After allowing an earned run in six innings of a 6-3 win against the Mets on May 16, Leake surrendered a homer and two other hits in eight innings of a 4-1 victory over Atlanta on Monday for his first victory in eight starts.
"He was outstanding,'' teammate Drew Stubbs said. "That was a big performance for him. He'd been struggling. That should be a big boost for his confidence. I'm glad to see it.''
In his only previous start versus Colorado on Aug. 10, the right-hander gave up 11 hits but two runs in 7 1-3 innings of a 3-2 home win.
Helton, who went 2 for 3 off Leake, homered for the first time since April 29 on Friday. He is 4 for 9 with four RBIs in his last two games after going 1 for 22 in his previous six. He's 7 for 21 with two homers and six RBIs in his last five games versus Cincinnati.
Looking to match a season high with their third straight victory, the Rockies hand the ball to Jeremy Guthrie (2-2, 5.55), who is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA in three road starts but looks to rebound from a rough outing at home. Guthrie allowed a run each in his two previous starts - both on the road - before yielding six and three homers in six innings of a 6-4 loss to Seattle on Sunday.
The right-hander has allowed six runs in each of his three home starts in 2012.
Guthrie gave up four runs and four walks in 5 2-3 innings of a 7-5 loss June 26, in his only appearance versus Cincinnati while Baltimore.
He will try to cool off Joey Votto, who had four hits Friday. Votto is 11 for 24 (.458) in his last six games versus Colorado.
Mired in a 1-for-29 slump, Jay Bruce is likely to be back in the Reds lineup after getting the night off in the opener.