Padres-Reds Preview

Johnny Cueto had to wait an extra day for the chance to continue his strong start and cool off the San Diego Padres.

After Wednesday's meeting was postponed due to rain, Cueto and the Cincinnati Reds try to keep the visiting Padres from extending their season-high winning streak to five in the opener of a day-night doubleheader Thursday.

The Reds (17-20) have had eight rain delays, two postponements and one suspended game at home this season. Bad weather gave them another day to think about Tuesday's 2-1 loss to San Diego (19-21).

Cincinnati's struggling offense outhit San Diego 7-3, but the Reds went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. They've totaled 17 runs and batted .200 while losing four of six.

Cueto (3-2, 1.43 ERA), who will start Game 1, hasn't received much offensive support either, getting no runs in both of his losses and a total of six runs in his three no-decisions.

The right-hander is the first pitcher to open a season with at least seven innings and two or fewer runs allowed in each of his first eight starts since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981. Cueto went seven innings just four times in 11 starts last year, during which he battled injuries.

His 68 strikeouts in those eight starts are the most by a Reds pitcher since 1900.

Cueto allowed two runs in eight innings while striking out eight in a 4-3 win over Colorado on Friday.

"It's scary to say, but each start he's getting better," Reds catcher Brayan Pena told the team's official website.

Cueto, however, is 2-2 with a 6.00 ERA in five career matchups with San Diego - his highest ERA against any team he's faced more than once.

Padres third baseman Chase Headley homered off Aroldis Chapman in the ninth in the closer's second appearance of the season Tuesday. Headley's home run was his second in three games since returning from a strained right calf. He had two in 70 at-bats prior to landing on the disabled list.

"I don't think he was quite hitting on all cylinders when the season started," manager Bud Black said.

Headley is 7 for 15 with two doubles against Cueto.

San Diego's Ian Kennedy (2-4, 3.12), set to take the mound in the first game, matched a career high with 12 strikeouts and didn't get a decision in a 3-1 loss to Miami on Thursday. He retired the first 14 he faced and yielded one run and four hits over seven innings while connecting for his first career home run.

The right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA in four career starts against the Reds. He gave up two runs and three hits over eight innings of a 3-2, 13-inning loss at Cincinnati on Aug. 11.

San Diego's Seth Smith is 19 for 36 with eight doubles during a nine-game hitting streak. However, he's 0 for 6 against Cueto.

Cincinnati's Todd Frazier is batting .304 during a career-high 12-game hitting streak. He's 2 for 7 off of Kennedy.

Tyson Ross (4-3, 3.02) will take the ball for the Padres in the nightcap. The right-hander has allowed one earned run in seven innings in each of his last two starts, most recently Friday when he yielded four hits and struck out eight in a 10-1 win over Miami.

In his only previous start against the Reds, Ross gave up a run and four hits in seven innings of a 3-1 victory at Cincinnati on Aug. 10.

Alfredo Simon was to start Thursday's originally scheduled finale, but will be pushed back while the Reds are expected to use their permitted 26th man allowance.

Veteran Jeff Francis, 4-3 with a 3.33 ERA in eight starts for Triple-A Louisville, was called up early Thursday to start the second game. The 33-year-old left-hander appeared in 23 games for the Rockies last year and went 3-5 with a 6.16 ERA in 12 starts.

He's 7-14 with a 5.62 ERA in 27 starts against San Diego.

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