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The Cincinnati Reds are the most productive offensive team in the NL, but their bats have been silent lately as they've been shut out three times in five games.

The Washington Nationals can certainly relate.

Both clubs will be trying to bounce back from 1-0 defeats, with Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto looking to extend Washington's streak of 21 straight scoreless innings Monday night at Great American Ball Park.

Cincinnati (51-42) tops the league with 448 runs, a big reason it's in close contention with St. Louis for the NL Central lead. The Reds, though, didn't score in their final 21 innings before the All-Star break, losing two 1-0 games at Philadelphia that were part of a four-game skid to close the first half.

They returned to action with back-to-back victories over Colorado, but the Rockies scored the only run Sunday as the Reds stranded 10 runners while getting blanked for the 11th time.

"These 1-0 games are killing us," Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said. "It seems like lately we score a lot of runs or none at all.''

Cincinnati's offense may have suffered from the absence of All-Star third baseman Scott Rolen, who was sidelined the last two games due to an illness. It's unclear if Rolen will be ready to play Monday in the opener of this four-game series.

The core of Washington's lineup has been intact, but not productive, during the team's slow start to the second half. The Nationals lost two of three at Florida despite limiting the Marlins to three runs and 14 hits.

After Stephen Strasburg won 4-0 on Friday, the Nationals (40-52) were shut out in the last two games of the series, stranding 19 runners and going 0 for 18 with men in scoring position.

"We are just in a little funk where we are getting them on, but we can't get them in,'' manager Jim Riggleman said.

That may bode well for Cueto (8-2, 3.42 ERA) as the right-hander makes his first start in 11 days following a strong first half.

While Cueto was brilliant heading into the All-Star break, going 2-0 with a 0.67 ERA in his last four starts, he's hoping to avoid a repeat of last year, when he posted a 5.81 ERA in 12 starts after the Midsummer Classic.

Among those was a disastrous outing against Washington on Aug. 15, when he allowed seven runs in 2 2-3 innings of a 10-6 home loss.

The winner that night was J.D. Martin, who singled off Cueto and limited Cincinnati to one unearned run in six innings - arguably the best of his 22 major league starts.

Martin (1-4, 3.35) takes the ball again looking to build on his first win of 2010. The Nationals lost the right-hander's first six outings, but beat San Diego 7-6 on July 7 after Martin held the Padres to two runs in 5 2-3 innings.

Tagged: Reds, Nationals, Johnny Cueto, J.D. Martin

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