Reds-Rockies Preview

The Associated Press

After dropping a series to the team directly ahead of them in both the NL Central and wild-card races, the Cincinnati Reds must find a way to end their recent struggles against the Colorado Rockies.

The visiting Reds look to avoid a fourth straight loss to the Rockies on Saturday night.

Despite outscoring St. Louis 17-14 this week, Cincinnati (75-60) dropped two of three at Busch Stadium. The Reds avoided the sweep with a 10-0 win, but Bronson Arroyo allowed five runs in the fourth inning of Friday's 9-6 loss at Coors Field.

Though Cincinnati owns the second wild-card spot, it's 3 1/2 games behind Central co-leaders Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

The Reds have allowed 26 runs while dropping three straight to Colorado (64-72), which pounded out 19 hits to win for the ninth time in 11 home contests. The Rockies recorded a season-high 20 hits during a 12-4 win at Cincinnati on June 5.

Todd Helton homered twice and had six RBIs Friday, while catcher Wilin Rosario added four hits as the Rockies knocked Arroyo out in the fourth inning.

Helton's 28th career multihomer game leaves him one hit shy of 2,500. Helton is 11 for 30 with four homers and 12 RBIs in his last eight games against the Reds.

"He's a very special player and it's a blessing to play with guys like that,'' winning pitcher Jorge De La Rosa said.

Cincinnati hopes ex-Rockie Greg Reynolds will provide a boost in his return to Denver.

Making his second straight start in place of the injured Tony Cingrani, Reynolds (0-2, 5.73 ERA) was recalled from Triple-A Louisville and allowed a two-run homer and four other hits in six innings of a 3-1 loss to Milwaukee on Sunday in his second start of 2013.

"I was able to slow it down and make a pitch when I had to," Reynolds told the Reds' official website. "I got myself behind in the counts. I'd definitely like to do a better job at executing early."

The No. 2 overall pick by Colorado in 2006, Reynolds pitched two seasons for the Rockies in 2008 and 2011, going 5-8 with a 7.47 ERA in 27 games and 16 starts.

Brandon Phillips and Ryan Hanigan each had two hits with two RBIs for Cincinnati, which has dropped five of seven away from home following a five-game road run.

Phillips is 4 for 9 since lashing out at a local reporter who asked the veteran second baseman about his sagging on-base percentage. He's 12 for 26 with 10 RBIs - and a .500 OBP - in his last seven games against the Rockies.

Phillips has never faced Colorado starter Juan Nicasio (8-6, 4.57), who is 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA in his last three starts. He allowed four hits and struck out a season-high nine in six scoreless innings of a 6-1 victory over San Francisco on Monday.

"It's a hard slider that he's throwing that he's getting swings and misses,'' manager Walt Weiss said. "When he gets it near the plate it's been effective."

The right-hander gave up three runs in six innings while not factoring in the decision of a 5-4 win at Cincinnati on June 4.

Rosario is 9 for 12 in the last three games.

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