Dodgers-Reds Preview

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

game.

“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

deep once.

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

disabled list.