Lamb faces Diamondbacks after struggling in first start
While Arizona's Patrick Corbin showed signs of recapturing his 2013 form in his latest start, Cincinnati's John Lamb learned just how quickly a smooth debut can turn sour.
The Reds' rookie has another shot to please in his home debut Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series with the Diamondbacks, and both teams are entering with piling losses.
Corbin (3-3, 3.43 ERA) threw a season-high 91 pitches in his first scoreless start of the season in Saturday's 8-4 win in Atlanta. The left-hander, making his eighth start back from more than a season and a half away due to elbow surgery, gave up three hits with eight strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings.
"Today I felt like I had my best fastball since I've been back," Corbin told MLB's official website. "It felt really good. Just keeping the ball down and mixing it up and in and then just working off my slider. It just seemed like everything was clicking today. It's getting better and (I hope to) just continue to improve."
Corbin wasn't bad in the start before against the Reds, yielding three runs and seven hits in six innings of a 4-3 home win on Aug. 9. He didn't earn the decision but is 1-1 with a 2.73 ERA and .204 opponent batting average in four career starts in the series.
Joey Votto (0 for 8), Brandon Phillips (1 for 13) and Jay Bruce (2 for 11 with a home run and five strikeouts) have struggled with Corbin.
Lamb gave up five runs and eight hits with seven strikeouts in six innings of Friday's 5-3 loss at the Los Angeles Dodgers after being called up from Triple-A Louisville. The left-hander was strong until surrendering a three-run homer to Adrian Gonzalez in a four-run fifth inning.
"It was a good learning experience," said Lamb, who was acquired from Kansas City in the Johnny Cueto deal on July 26. "I can only hope to get the ball again and get a chance to go out and compete. It was a fun night, but that one pitch (to Gonzalez), I wish I could get it back."
That game began a losing streak that reached five games after Wednesday's 4-3 home loss to Kansas City. The Reds (51-67) are a season-high 16 games under .500 - a mark they hadn't reached since 2009. They're also a game away from falling into a last-place tie with Milwaukee, and they haven't occupied the NL Central cellar this late in the season since Aug. 22, 2009.
Cincinnati's scored 2.2 runs per game and hit .187 during the skid. Bruce is again in an extended slump, batting .109 in 14 games since getting his average back to .260 for the first time since the second game of the season.
Arizona (58-61) fell 4-1 Wednesday in Pittsburgh and hasn't been much better lately with five losses in seven games since getting back to .500 at 56-56.
Paul Goldschmidt drove in the only run as the team managed just four hits, but the first baseman is in a 2-for-16 slump. He's also batting .184 in 10 games against the Reds since the start of last season.
The Diamondbacks fought through that to win two of three over the Reds in Arizona from Aug. 7-9.
Phillips left Wednesday's game with inflammation in his right biceps tendon, though his status hasn't been determined. The injury came hours after Billy Hamilton landed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.