Diamondbacks-Reds Preview

An off-field incident will not prevent Mike Leake from making

his next start for the Cincinnati Reds.

Three days after being arrested on misdemeanor shoplifting

charges, Leake looks to help the Reds avoid a fifth straight loss

Thursday and first sweep by the Arizona Diamondbacks at Great

American Ball Park.

Leake (2-0, 5.40 ERA) was arrested by Cincinnati police Monday

at a downtown department store, accused of removing the tags from

six T-shirts and trying to steal them. The shirts were valued at

$59.88. Leake is making $425,000 in his second season in the

majors.

After discussions within the organization, manager Dusty Baker

decided to keep the 23-year-old right-hander on schedule to start.

Leake has not talked publicly about the incident, other than to

issue an apology “for this distraction.”

In his first court hearing Tuesday, Leake’s lawyer asked to let

him enter a diversion program for first-time offenders. If

accepted, he would pay a $200 fee, likely perform volunteer work

and take a class.

Baker and the Reds hope baseball can be a pleasant distraction

for Leake, who allowed two runs in six innings of an 11-2 win over

Pittsburgh on Saturday.

“We talked about how he felt and could he handle the pressures

of it, and he said yeah,” Baker said. “Sometimes when you’re in

times of trouble, it’s easier to go to work than to not go to

work.

“Hopefully this will be a sanctuary from what transpired this

week.”

Leake, who pitched for Arizona State, will try for a better

outing against the Diamondbacks after he allowed six runs in 4 2-3

innings of a 10-8 loss at Arizona on April 10.

Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew had four hits with three RBIs in

that contest, and two hits in the Diamondbacks’ 3-1 win over

Cincinnati (9-9) on Wednesday.

The Diamondbacks (8-8) hope to extend their season-high winning

streak to four games while looking for their first sweep in

Cincinnati since Aug. 13-15, 2002 – the year before Great American

Ball Park opened.

Drew is batting .326 this season, and .405 during a 10-game

hitting streak versus Cincinnati.

Daniel Hudson (0-3, 4.26) takes the ball for Diamondbacks hoping

to get some rare support.

The right-hander has allowed nine earned runs in 19 innings over

three starts, but his teammates have scored just four. Hudson

allowed five runs and struck out 10 in six innings of a 5-2 loss to

San Francisco on Friday.

“He has thrown good games for us and has nothing to show for

it,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said.

He allowed two runs in seven innings of a 6-1 loss to the Reds

on April 9, dropping his record to 1-2 with a 2.05 ERA versus

Cincinnati. The victory came in Cincinnati, when he allowed four

hits in eight scoreless innings of a 3-1 win Sept. 14.

“We’ve faced him three times and he’s thrown the ball well every

time,” said Reds third baseman Scott Rolen, who is 1 for 8 in the

series but 3 for 8 versus Hudson.

The Reds, who have not been at .500 since May 8, have totaled

eight runs and 13 hits over the last three games.

“As long as we don’t panic and continue to work hard, it’ll be

great,” Baker said. “I’m not happy, but I’m positive.”

After going hitless the previous two games, Joey Votto went 2

for 4 on Wednesday. The reigning NL MVP is batting .413, and has

gone 8 for 17 against the Diamondbacks in 2011.