While the Cleveland Indians have been hindered by injuries, Jason Kipnis has stepped up.
Kipnis and the Indians look to continue their run Tuesday night when they open a three-game road series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Cleveland won two of three against Detroit and St. Louis last week as part of a nine-game road trip. Kipnis hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the ninth Sunday for a 4-1 victory over the Cardinals.
With the win, the Indians (32-27) improved to 16-11 on the road and moved within one-half game of Chicago for the AL Central lead.
Kipnis has helped keep Cleveland in the mix of the division race while Carlos Santana, Travis Hafner, Jack Hannahan and Grady Sizemore have all spent time on the disabled list. After hitting seven homers in 36 games last season, he is leading the team with 10 homers and 39 RBIs while hitting .285 in 2012.
Kipnis has been on a tear recently, hitting .357 with four homers and 15 RBIs over the last 17 games, playing all three games this weekend despite taking a ball off his knee Friday.
Cincinnati (32-27) dropped the final two in a three-game series with Detroit over the weekend, losing 7-6 Sunday after Detroit scored five runs over the seventh and eighth innings. The Reds have lost five of seven heading into this series.
Aroldis Chapman picked up the loss for a second straight appearance after being charged with two runs allowed in the eighth. He opened the season with franchise-record streak of 24 appearances without allowing an earned run.
"Sometimes, it happens," manager Dusty Baker said. ''I don't care how good you are. He spoiled us by being so good, and he will be great again.''
The loss dropped Cincinnati into a tie with Pittsburgh for the NL Central lead.
"Tied or not, we're still the leaders," said third baseman Todd Frazier, who homered and had a career-high four RBIs.
The Reds may not have much luck ending their recent struggles if they can't solve the Indians, who won five of six last season.
Cincinnati will try to take advantage of a matchup against Jeanmar Gomez (4-4, 4.97 ERA), who has struggled in three straight starts, giving up at least five runs in each of them.
Despite surrendering two homers among seven hits and getting reached for six runs over five innings Wednesday, Gomez did get the win as the Indians beat Detroit 9-6.
The right-hander is making his first start against the Reds. He made his first interleague appearance against Miami on May 19, allowing three hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 2-0 victory.
Cincinnati will counter with Johnny Cueto (6-3, 2.63), who gave up three runs in 7 2-3 innings of a 5-4 win over Pittsburgh last Wednesday, avoiding a third straight loss.
"When he's on the mound, you feel like you've got a good shot to win," Ryan Ludwick said. "I've been on other clubs with pitchers like that. I don't want to put any extra pressure on him, but that's what he's supposed to do.
Cueto is 2-0 with a 2.49 ERA in four starts against the Indians, last facing them in 2010.