Indians-Reds Preview

The Associated Press

It's possible the Cincinnati Reds' recent struggles against their Ohio interleague rival are in the past.

The Reds look for a third consecutive victory over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night at Great American Ball Park.

Cincinnati (33-27) had dropped six straight to Cleveland (32-28) before winning 7-5 in the final meeting last season.

Despite a stomach ailment going through the team's clubhouse, the Reds avoided a third consecutive loss overall with Tuesday's 7-1 win over the Indians. Johnny Cueto tossed his second complete game of the season and Joey Votto hit a two-run homer as Cincinnati won for the third time in eight games.

The win, coupled with Pittsburgh's loss at Baltimore, put the Reds alone atop the NL Central, one game ahead of the Pirates.

The illness kept Zack Cozart out of Tuesday's lineup. Drew Stubbs was also sick, but he is close to returning after missing the previous five games with strained muscles in his left side.

"Some on the field are even sick, just not maybe as sick as those who are very sick," manager Dusty Baker told the Reds' official website. "It's what you dread every year, something going around the team."

Votto also is under the weather, but he's batting .517 (30 for 58) with four home runs and 13 RBIs in his last 16 games. Three of his six hits in his last 20 at-bats versus Cleveland have left the park.

The illness has forced a change to the Reds' rotation. Mike Leake had been scheduled to start Wednesday, but he's sick, leaving Mat Latos to move up a day.

Hoping to follow Cueto's gem with a strong outing of his own, Latos (4-2, 4.85 ERA) has been a bit shaky lately. He's 4-0 in his last nine starts, but he has a 6.35 ERA in the last three - even as the Reds have won all three behind ample run support.

The right-hander has never faced Cleveland. He's 4-2 with a 3.62 ERA in eight career interleague starts.

Cleveland counters with veteran Derek Lowe (7-4, 3.72), who looks to bounce back from his second rough outing in three starts.

The right-hander allowed a season-high eight runs in a 14-7 loss to the Chicago White Sox on May 26, but rebounded with a sharp performance in a 7-1 win over Minnesota on his 39th birthday June 1. Lowe, however, took another step back Thursday when he gave up seven runs in five innings of a 7-5 loss at Detroit.

"It doesn't matter how long I've been playing, or how much success I've had, I'm the same as a rookie. When people start hitting me, I have to make an adjustment," Lowe said.

"If you're going to pitch bad, you better learn something from it."

Lowe is 3-3 with a 4.57 ERA in seven starts versus Cincinnati, but 0-2 with a 7.04 ERA in his last three against the Reds.

Jason Kipnis drove in the lone run Tuesday for Cleveland, which took two of three at St. Louis over the weekend but was held to six hits in the opener of this series.

Michael Brantley went 1 for 4 to extend his hitting streak to 19 games. The Indians outfielder is batting .351 during that stretch.

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