The Cincinnati Reds are struggling to score with a depleted lineup and needed an outstanding pitching performance to even their series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
That’s something the Reds could once count on from Alfredo Simon.
The right-hander looks to avoid his third straight loss since the All-Star break while leading Cincinnati to back-to-back victories for the first time in three weeks Wednesday against the visiting Diamondbacks.
The Reds have totaled a MLB-low 20 runs while batting just .176 during a 2-9 stretch that has dropped them from 1 1/2 games back of NL Central-leading Milwaukee to six off the pace heading into Tuesday.
Cincinnati, already playing without injured sluggers Joey Votto (knee) and Brandon Phillips (thumb), had to place Jay Bruce on the bereavement list for undisclosed reasons. Bruce had been 3 for 36 over his last 10 contests.
Todd Frazier broke out of his 3-for-27 slide Tuesday, going 2 for 4 with an RBI in a 3-0 victory. The Reds (53-53) snapped a two-game skid and gained a game with the Brewers’ loss at Tampa Bay.
Right-hander Mike Leake aided the lackluster offense with an RBI single while giving up five hits over 7 2-3 innings.
"Fantastic job," Frazier said. "We needed it."
Now the Reds hope Simon (12-5, 2.86 ERA) can have a similar outing as they try to win two straight for the first time since a five-game run from July 6-9.
Although he went 6-0 with a 2.47 ERA in eight starts leading up to his first All-Star appearance, Simon has allowed seven runs over 9 1-3 innings while losing his last two. On Friday, he gave up three runs and a season-high nine hits over just 4 1-3 innings in a 4-1 home loss to Washington.
"I like to stay with my starters," manager Bryce Price said. "I think they’ve earned the right to work out of trouble, but he wasn’t getting better. You start to lose hope."
Simon is 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in five career appearances against the Diamondbacks. In his only start versus Arizona, he surrendered three runs over 6 1-3 innings in a 4-3 win at Chase Field on June 1.
Aaron Hill, who is 0 for 7 versus Simon, was hitless in three at-bats in his return to the lineup after being limited to one pinch-hitting appearance in the last two games because of a bruised right hand.
Paul Goldschmidt is 1 for 16 with seven strikeouts in the last four games for the Diamondbacks, who have totaled four runs while hitting .168 over their last three after getting shut out for the ninth time Tuesday.
Arizona’s Wade Miley (6-7, 4.34) went 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA in his first four July starts, but he’s looking to get back on track after allowing six runs – five earned – over five innings in a 9-5 loss at Philadelphia on Friday.
"He wasn’t very good," manager Kirk Gibson said. "He didn’t have a good feel with his pitches."
The left-hander hasn’t been much better when he’s faced the Reds, going 1-2 with a 5.01 ERA in four career starts. He opposed Simon in the June meeting and allowed four solo home runs over six innings to take the loss.
Chris Heisey, Frazier, Ryan Ludwick and Zack Cozart each went deep off Miley in that contest. Heisey is 4 for 8 against him, while Ludwick is 3 for 8 with two homers.