The Cincinnati Reds still have a chance of finishing with a winning interleague record.
The best the Minnesota Twins can hope for is a .500 mark against the NL.
The NL Central-leading Reds and AL-worst Twins close out their series – and their 2012 interleague schedules – Sunday at Great American Ball Park.
Losers of four straight – all against the AL – following a season-best six-game win streak, Cincinnati (39-31) rebounded from Friday’s 5-4 series-opening defeat with a 6-0 victory on Saturday.
The Reds had dropped four in a row to the Twins dating to 2000.
Before returning to divisional play Monday versus Milwaukee, Cincinnati will give the ball to Mike Leake (2-5, 4.70 ERA) as it tries to end its 15-game interleague schedule with a winning record.
The right-hander was slated to pitch Monday, but the team announced Friday that he and Mat Latos were switching spots in the rotation.
“Leake and (Tuesday’s starter Bronson) Arroyo are very similar,” manager Dusty Baker told the Reds’ official website. “Plus the extra day with the off-day (on Thursday), too, gave us the liberty to do something.”
Leake did plenty in his last outing, allowing one run in seven innings of Tuesday’s 3-2, 10-inning loss to Cleveland.
“That’s the most pitches (a career high-tying 114) he’s ever thrown since he’s been here, and it’s a sign of how he’s working,” Baker said. “He was throwing just as good in the seventh as he was in the first.”
Leake will face the Twins for the first time.
Minnesota (28-42) closes its six-game trip after failing to win two straight for the first time since a three-game run June 6-9.
Giving the ball to Scott Diamond (5-3, 2.57) might not be the best way for the Twins to avoid a third consecutive 8-10 record during interleague play.
Diamond is 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA in last two starts – both against NL teams – after opening 5-1 with a 1.61 ERA in his first seven. The rookie left-hander has walked two in each of his last two outings after giving up four free passes to open the season.
“Something doesn’t feel completely right after that (hot) start and I think it’s just a little bit of work in the (bullpen),” Diamond said after getting tagged for four runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings of Tuesday’s 7-2 loss at Pittsburgh. “I’ve got to refine the curveball a little bit, too. It just wasn’t coming out right.”
There is plenty going right for Reds third baseman Scott Rolen, who is 5 for 7 with a homer and three RBIs this series. He’s batting .389 (7 for 18) in five games since missing 34 with a strained left shoulder.
“I’ve had a good year the last four days,” Rolen joked. “I’m a bit more comfortable swinging the bat.”
Reds first baseman Joey Votto has walked three times in the last two contests, but he’s also gone hitless after entering this series on a nine-game hitting streak. The last time Votto didn’t get a hit during a three-game series was Aug. 8-10, 2009, when he went 0 for 10 at San Francisco.
Twins catcher Ryan Doumit, 5 for 7 with a solo homer in the series, will try to extend his six-game hitting streak. He has two hits in 12 at-bats off Leake.