The Cincinnati Reds haven't managed to beat the Cleveland Indians on the road in more than three years. Homer Bailey may be particularly motivated to change that.
Bailey looks to continue his impressive stretch and help the Reds snap an eight-game losing streak at Progressive Field to clinch the Ohio Cup on Thursday night.
Cincinnati (33-20) is averaging 3.3 runs during its losing streak in Cleveland. The road woes against the Indians continued with a 5-2 loss Wednesday after the Reds outscored them 12-4 while taking two games at home to open the series.
Bailey (3-3, 3.08) is scheduled to get a chance to end the slide, which started with him on the mound May 23, 2010. Tightness in his right shoulder forced him to leave the 4-3 loss after 2 1-3 innings, and he didn't get a decision after allowing three runs.
The right-hander has given up five runs in 14 innings over two starts against the Indians since, but he's gotten one total run of support.
Bailey, though, has received ample help of late while going 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA over his last three starts, with one complete game. He's gotten 13 runs of support over that stretch.
The lineup came through again for him Saturday, when he yielded two runs in six innings with eight strikeouts in a 5-2 win over the Chicago Cubs.
The Reds would like to end the road skid to the Indians heading into Friday's opener of a three-game set in Pittsburgh. They're tied with the Pirates for second in the NL Central, 2 1/2 games back of St. Louis.
Manager Dusty Baker, however, feels it's too early to think about the division race.
"I'm not worried about all year," Baker told the team's official website. "I'm worried about now. The only thing you can control is now. You can look at it both ways. We haven't caught them, but they haven't run off from us either."
The Indians are 1 1/2 games behind AL Central-leading Detroit after ending their season high-tying five-game losing streak.
"We had a bad week," manager Terry Francona said. "That's part of the season. I feel every bit as good about our club right now that I did 10 days ago - maybe better because I've seen the fight they have in them."
Francona may feel even better if Michael Brantley can improve upon his 1-for-14 performance over the past four games. Despite going 0 for 3 on Wednesday, he owns a career .333 average in seven meetings with Cincinnati.
Brantley homered on his only hit in seven at-bats versus Bailey, while Mark Reynolds is 3 for 7 with a solo shot.
Scott Kazmir (2-2, 5.94) is scheduled to face the Reds for the first time.The left-hander has gone 0-1 with a 7.62 ERA in his last three starts.
He battled control issues Saturday, walking four and allowing two runs with six strikeouts in five innings of a 7-4 loss at Boston. Kazmir, who threw a season-high 107 pitches, didn't get the decision.
He'll try to cool off Shin-Soo Choo, who is 5 for 11 against the Indians this week. The center fielder, who spent his last six-plus years with Cleveland, mustered a single in his return to Progressive Field on Wednesday.