The Cincinnati Reds' Johnny Cueto is in position to become the NL's first 15-game winner in part because of some recent support from his teammates.
Having cooled off a little from a torrid stretch, the visiting Reds might not be poised to give their right-hander the same kind of backing Tuesday night, but Cueto may not need as much help when he faces the Milwaukee Brewers.
Cueto (14-5, 2.52 ERA) has won a career-high five consecutive starts but has also allowed a combined nine runs over his past two outings. He gave up four over 7 1-3 innings Thursday against San Diego but got eight runs of support for the second straight outing in a 9-4 victory.
"Johnny will take those runs big time. Anybody will," manager Dusty Baker told the team's official website.
The Reds (66-43) enter this game having batted .188 with five runs scored over back-to-back defeats, and even Brandon Phillips' return from a strained left calf couldn't help them in Monday's series opener.
Cincinnati didn't score until the seventh inning in its 6-3 defeat.
Martin Maldonado provided a home run, two doubles and three RBIs for the Brewers (49-59) as they matched a season high with a fourth consecutive home win. Milwaukee was coming off three straight losses in St. Louis and batted .237 with four runs scored in that series.
The Brewers had 12 hits on Monday, with Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart also going deep.
"Real nice," manager Ron Roenicke said. "As hot as (the Reds) have been, real nice. That was good offense. That was a lot of good at-bats."
Cincinnati had won 22 of 25 before its current losing streak, its first since a three-game skid July 3-5.
Given his performances against Milwaukee this season, Cueto could help the Reds start another run and add to their 3 1/2-game lead over Pittsburgh in the NL Central.
The right-hander is 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA in his two matchups and tossed seven scoreless innings at Miller Park on May 9. He did not get a decision in that 2-1 victory and tied a season high with nine strikeouts over seven innings of a 2-1 win in Cincinnati on July 22.
The Brewers, 3-7 against the Reds this season, haven't won five in a row at home since a seven-game run last August. Rookie Mike Fiers (5-4, 1.88) will try to help his team accomplish that goal with another strong outing.
The right-hander hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his last eight starts, going 4-2 with a 1.02 ERA and racking up 54 strikeouts in 53 innings. He fanned six over six innings while winning his second straight start Wednesday, 13-4 over Houston.
"I feel like I have a lot of confidence when I go out there," Fiers told the team's official website.
In his only start against Cincinnati, Fiers was outdueled by Cueto on July 22 after giving up two runs and five hits over six innings.