For the first time since mid-May, the Cincinnati Reds have
strung together consecutive victories. Making it three in a row
might be asking a bit much.
Coming off a two-hit shutout, the red-hot Clayton Kershaw hopes
his outstanding month of May carries into his first start in June
as the Reds and visiting Los Angeles Dodgers continue their
three-game set Saturday afternoon.
Cincinnati (30-28) had won five straight and 11 of 13 through
May 17, but then suffered 11 losses in 14 games before winning
Wednesday’s finale against Milwaukee 4-3.
The Reds did all their scoring in the seventh and eighth while
rallying to win that one, and they produced all the offense they’d
need in one inning Friday against Los Angeles. Scott Rolen snapped
a seven-game streak without an RBI with a two-out, two-run single
in the fifth, lifting Cincinnati to a 2-1 victory.
“RBIs and runs scored are big things for me, and it’s painful to
go through a drought like that,” Rolen said.
The Reds will have an even tougher task Saturday as they try to
win a third straight game against the Dodgers (26-32) for the first
time since May 14-16, 2004.
Kershaw (6-3, 2.62 ERA) went 4-0 with a 1.77 ERA in May,
striking out 46 in 40 2-3 innings, and he ended the month with his
best performance yet. The left-hander held the Marlins to two hits
and struck out 10 in Sunday’s 8-0 win, his second career complete
“I just pounded the strike zone and made them try to beat me
instead of beating myself,” Kershaw said.
Cincinnati has had trouble making contact against Kershaw in the
past. He’s struck out 29 in 21 1-3 innings in three career starts
against the Reds, going 1-1 with a 2.53 ERA. Reigning NL MVP Joey
Votto is 2 for 10 against Kershaw with six strikeouts.
The lone Red who’s had success versus Kershaw is second baseman
Brandon Phillips, who didn’t start Friday after being hit by a
pitch in the right wrist Wednesday.
Manager Dusty Baker said the day off was designed more to give
the slumping Phillips – 7 for 39 in his last nine games – a little
rest than anything else. Phillips is 6 for 10 against Kershaw,
though, and should be in Saturday’s lineup.
The Reds counter with Johnny Cueto (2-2, 2.20), who will face
one of the NL’s top starters for a second straight game.
Cueto pitched well Sunday against Atlanta, but it wasn’t enough
to outduel Jair Jurrjens. Still, there were plenty of positives for
a pitcher who spent the season’s first six weeks on the disabled
list. Cueto gave up two runs and five hits over eight innings, the
deepest he pitched since Aug. 27, in the 2-1 loss.
“It’s a shame Johnny lost that game because he was pitching
lights-out,” Baker told the Reds’ official website.
Cueto’s been anything but on top of his game against the
Dodgers. He’s 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA in three career starts, walking
nine and allowing four homers in 15 innings. Casey Blake (3 for 5),
Andre Ethier (3 for 6) and Matt Kemp (3 for 7) have all taken Cueto
A Los Angeles offense that’s among the NL’s least productive
might be a bit worse Saturday. Rafael Furcal left Friday with a
strained oblique after trying to throw Jay Bruce out at third base,
and manager Don Mattingly said the shortstop may be headed to the