Superb pitching has the Cincinnati Reds on a roll, and they’re hoping a favorable stretch of schedule will keep it that way.
Tony Cingrani, however, is just looking for some help this time.
Cingrani looks to give the Reds another strong performance on the mound, as they face the last-place Milwaukee Brewers for the first of seven meetings in a 10-game span Thursday night.
Cincinnati (68-52) holds one of league’s two wild-card spots. The team is also third in the NL Central, one-half game behind second-place St. Louis and 3 1/2 back of Pittsburgh for first.
The Reds are gaining momentum in an effort to close that gap, winning seven of eight since an embarrassing 15-2 home loss to the Cardinals on Aug. 4.
“Sometimes a team has to hit rock bottom before you can start rolling,” manager Dusty Baker said.
The pitching staff has been terrific since, compiling a 1.62 ERA over the past eight games. That may only continue in this four-game set with the Brewers, who are tied with Chicago in the division basement.
“If you don’t have any (momentum) right now with this stretch we’ve got coming up against some teams that are not on the top of their game, we probably will never get any,” right-hander Bronson Arroyo said.
Arroyo turned in the latest impressive outing for the Reds, allowing two hits in seven innings of a 5-0 win to complete a three-game sweep of the Cubs.
Cingrani (5-2, 2.87 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the first time since being charged with the Reds’ only defeat over the past eight games. The rookie left-hander allowed two unearned runs and two hits with five strikeouts in five innings of a 3-1 loss to San Diego on Saturday, but he tossed 92 pitches since the defense committed three of its four errors behind him. The offense wasn’t much better, mustering four singles.
“When you make four errors, there is four potential outs and it cost him probably 40 pitches or so,” manager Dusty Baker told the team’s official website.
Despite owning a 2.23 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 40 1-3 innings over seven starts since joining the rotation, Cingrani is just 2-2 since the offense has backed him with one or no runs in four of those outings.
One of the two defeats was a 2-0 loss at Milwaukee on July 9, when he allowed two runs and three hits while fanning 10 in seven innings.
Cincinnati had just three hits in that defeat.
The Brewers are expected to turn to Kyle Lohse (8-7, 3.26), who hasn’t lost at home since falling to Texas on May 8.
The journeyman right-hander is 5-0 with a 2.56 ERA over his last seven starts at Miller Park, and Milwaukee has emerged victorious in each. He’s also 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his last five games overall, and the Brewers have also won each of those.
Lohse extended his winning streaks Friday, earning a 10-5 victory at Seattle while allowing three runs with a season high-tying seven strikeouts in seven innings.
A meeting with the Reds would seem to be in his favor since he’s 3-0 with a 1.95 ERA over his last eight starts against them. He beat them again July 8, allowing three runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-3 victory in Milwaukee.