Running into Cincinnati Reds starter Johnny Cueto on Friday night certainly isn’t the best thing that could happen for a Philadelphia Phillies team looking to avoid a seventh straight defeat.
No matter the situation in the past, though, the Phillies have never lost when Cole Hamels takes the mound against the Reds.
Cueto (5-4, 1.68 ERA) leads the majors in ERA and opponents’ batting average (.151), and he’s coming off another solid outing after striking out seven in 7 1-3 innings of a 5-0 win over Arizona on Saturday.
The right-hander often has been the victim of poor run support this season, but he was able to work more effectively in his last outing.
"It makes you feel better," Cueto said of the run support. "That way I could come in and attack the hitters more aggressively."
Catcher Brayan Pena said Cueto told his teammates all he needed was two runs.
"He backed his word," Pena said. "He said it was going to be a good one and we gave him much better run support."
Cueto is 1-2 with a 2.84 ERA over his last six starts against the Phillies, including the playoffs, though the Reds (27-31) have lost four of his last five outings while providing him with nine runs of support.
He may not need much this time against a Philadelphia team that has been outscored 39-15 during its losing streak after falling 4-2 to Washington on Thursday. John Mayberry homered for the Phillies (24-34), who finished with four hits.
"It’s been time to straighten it out," manager Ryne Sandberg said.
This game could wind up being a pitchers’ duel, as Hamels has gone 9-0 with a 1.49 ERA in his career against the Reds. Six of those outings have come at Great American Ball Park, including Game 3 of the NLDS in 2010, and he’s won four times with a 1.29 ERA.
Philadelphia has won all 12 starts Hamels (1-3, 4.01) has made against Cincinnati.
The left-hander comes into this outing on a bit of a roll, pitching at least seven innings in each of his last five starts while going 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA. He gave up two runs and struck out eight in a 4-3, 11-inning loss to the New York Mets on Sunday, Philadelphia’s fourth defeat during Hamels’ solid run.
"I mean, he gives us the opportunity (to win). No question about it," Sandberg said. "We came up short on the offensive side for him, and he pitched well enough to win."
The Reds will be looking to end Hamels’ dominance against them, and they’re not losing confidence despite scoring three runs while dropping the last two in their series with San Francisco following a four-game winning streak.
Todd Frazier had two of Cincinnati’s three hits in Thursday’s 6-1 loss, including his second homer in as many days to extend his hitting streak to six.
"I’m not disappointed or starting to think we saw the best of our club and now we’re back into the doldrums," manager Bryan Price said. "But certainly I thought with the approach we had that we were going to do more damage than we did. We came out smoking in that first inning, and then that was it other than Frazier getting a hit his second time up."
Frazier is hitting .125 in eight home games against the Phillies, while Brandon Phillips is 4 for 30 (.133) off Hamels in the regular season.