Leake aims to halt Cardinals losing streak by beating his former team
CINCINNATI -- For the longest time, the St. Louis Cardinals dominated the Cincinnati Reds, even during the span of four seasons when the Reds won a pair of National League Central titles and reached the postseason three times.
"Ever since I've been here," Reds shortstop Zack Cozart said. "There's always that 'Cardinal Way' that you hear about. We weren't successful against them, even when we were good." The tide appears to be shifting in Cincinnati's favor.
Heading into Thursday afternoon's finale of a four-game series at Great American Ball Park, the Reds have won six of eight games against the Cardinals this season, including the first three in this series. And, they've done it in resounding fashion, with Scooter Gennett's four-homer game in Tuesday's 13-1 win and Wednesday night's stirring rally from a three-run deficit in the seventh inning in a 6-4 win.
"I don't think we look at them like anything special," Cozart said. "If we play our game, we have a chance to win. We have such a different group of guys now."
The never-say-die Reds (28-30) now have notched 13 come-from-behind wins this season. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have lost six straight for the first time since 2013 and the losses just keep getting more brutal. In five of the six defeats in the current streak, St. Louis had the lead or was tied in the sixth inning or later.
"I'm still concerned what we look like," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "If we're losing and doing things the right way ... we haven't even sniffed what we're capable of. We have to fix the little things every day."
St. Louis hasn't lost seven straight games since July 26-31, 2013.
"You're going to go through them," Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn said of losing streaks. "You hope that when you do go through them, they're not long. And they're longer than we would like it right now. We've got one more (Thursday). Hopefully we can win that one and get back home and kind of regroup, take a deep breath and get back after it."
Former Reds right-hander Mike Leake will try to help reverse the current skid when he takes the mound on Thursday. Leake has made six career starts against his former team, going 0-3 with a 4.95 ERA. St. Louis has lost all six games. Leake is 0-1 with a 10.32 ERA against the Reds at Great American Ball Park.
He'll be opposed by Reds right-hander Scott Feldman, who started Opening Day for the third time in his career. He's 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA in two career starts against the Cardinals, including an 8-0 victory on April 9 at Busch Stadium in which he pitched six shutout innings.
Cincinnati hasn't won a season series against the Cardinals since 2011. But, right now the rebuilding Reds seemingly have turned a corner. With the offense clicking and the defense and bullpen coming through on a daily basis, the Reds feel like with a few healthy starting pitchers back, they could make a move in the National League Central.
"Sometimes you're just amazed it's happening," Reds manager Bryan Price of the come-from-behind wins. "You never get tired of it, I can tell you that. With the offense the way it is and the defense playing well, you always feel like we have a chance."