Reds-Phillies Preview

The Associated Press

The Cincinnati Reds' Homer Bailey snapped a six-start winless stretch with a superb performance his last time out.

He proved nearly unhittable against the Philadelphia Phillies about a month ago.

Bailey squares off against impressive rookie Jonathan Pettibone as the surging Reds conclude a three-game set in Philadelphia on Sunday.

After going 0-1 with a 6.97 ERA over his previous two starts, Bailey (2-3, 3.51 ERA) got back on track Tuesday in a 6-2 win at Miami. The right-hander scattered six hits and struck out a career high-tying 10 in his fourth career complete game.

"This guy never wants to come out," manager Dusty Baker told MLB's official website after leaving Bailey in to throw a career-high 125 pitches. "Complete games are hard to come by. Most guys don't care about them, but the competitors do."

Aside from one rough start versus St. Louis on April 10, Bailey has posted a 2.53 ERA in his other seven outings while striking out 50 over 46 1-3 innings.

"Homer to me has turned into one of those guys where you could maybe consider him the ace of your staff," first baseman Joey Votto said. "He has consistently gotten better over his career, and it's really impressive to see him improve and grow."

Bailey was also at his best against Philadelphia (20-23) on April 16, striking out 10 over eight innings of two-hit ball in a 1-0 walkoff win. However, he's 0-3 with a 4.24 ERA in seven career matchups in the series.

Pettibone (3-0, 3.41) has given the Phillies' injury-plagued rotation a big lift. The 22-year-old right-hander has been especially good at home, posting a 2.45 ERA while striking out 12 and walking two over three outings spanning 18 1-3 innings.

"He does a tremendous job," manager Charlie Manuel said.

Pettibone allowed two runs and four hits in a season-high 6 2-3 innings Tuesday, earning the victory in a 6-2 win over Cleveland.

"My first start, I didn't get any sleep the night before," he said. "Now I can get a full night's sleep. You just build confidence and try to build off each start."

Pettibone would appear to have a difficult matchup against a Reds team averaging 6.3 runs and hitting .342 with runners in scoring position during a 7-1 stretch. After dropping Friday's series opener, Cincinnati (26-17) went 6 for 20 with runners in scoring position during a 10-0 victory Saturday.

Ryan Hanigan hit a three-run homer and Votto added a two-run shot. Votto had four hits and has gone 15 for 29 with two home runs, eight runs and seven RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak.

"I'm trying to see the ball as long as possible and direct it where I want it," said Votto, 11 for 22 in his last five games at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies will also need to be wary of Jay Bruce, batting .405 with three homers and 11 RBIs during a nine-game hit streak.

Philadelphia has gone 4-7 in its last 11 home games. The Phillies have been shut out six times on the season, matching their total from last year.

"They say the game builds character," Manuel said. "I don't know about building, but it definitely reveals it."

Ryan Howard, mired in a 4-for-34 slump, has gone 2 for 10 against Bailey since the start of 2011. Chase Utley is hitless in 11 at-bats over the last three games.

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