"It's not as doggish if you're winning," manager Dusty Baker said. "They're really dog days if you're losing. Everybody out there is a little spent on both sides. I just hope my guys are a little stronger and in better shape than the opposition."
The Reds continue their hunt for the postseason on Wednesday in the second game of a series with the Mets at Great American Ball Park. Until Aug. 30, the Reds play every day. They also have a doubleheader against the Cubs on Saturday.
"Everybody goes through it," shortstop Zack Cozart said. "Every team is playing a lot, and it's crunch time now."
Right-hander Mike Leake takes the mound for the Reds. He hasn't pitched great in his last four starts, posting a 5.82 ERA in 21 2/3 innings. In his last three starts, he's given up four home runs.
Against the Mets on May 16, Leake went six innings and allowed one run on seven hits. He has a 1.96 ERA against the Mets in three career outings.
The Mets, who started a stretch of 13 games in 13 days on Tuesday, counter with right-hander R.A. Dickey, who is going for his Major League-leading 16th victory. The knuckleballer has a 1.17 ERA in his past three starts. In his last start, on Thursday, Dickey tossed a complete game against the Marlins, allowing one run on five hits and striking out 10.
New York is 9-21 since the All-Star break.
Mets: Catcher Shoppach joins the team
Veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach, acquired from the Red Sox on Tuesday for a player to be named, will probably platoon with Josh Thole and start against left-handers for the Mets, manager Terry Collins said.
Shoppach hit .250 with five homers in 48 games for the Red Sox. His career OPS against left-handers is .894. Against right-handers, it's .656.
"I think that's probably one of the reasons why we got him," Collins said, referring to "the damage he can do against left-handers."
Thole is batting .277 in 188 at-bats against right-handers and .219 in 64 at-bats against lefties. He has just one homer on the season.
"I think when he first got here, everybody thought he was going to hit, and hit a lot," Collins said. "But he puts the bat on the ball. We knew he would. You wish he'd hit for a little more power, because he can. He's got some."
Reds: Votto won't come back until he's fully ready
The Reds will have to wait just a bit longer for All-Star first baseman Joey Votto after the slugger tweaked his injured left knee sliding last week.
"I felt like I was close. I was probably pushing it trying to get out there," Votto said. "I was probably being a little overzealous."
Votto doesn't regret trying to hustle back from the disabled list, where he's been since July 16.
"I am where I am in my career because of my attitude in general," Votto said. "I don't think I would be the player I am if I didn't ask more of myself. Stuff like this happens."
The Reds are now 20-8 without Votto in the lineup.
Reds third baseman Scott Rolen, out since Aug. 7 with a sore back, could return on Wednesday. He is 5-for-9 with a homer and four RBIs against Dickey.
Mets third baseman David Wright is one homer shy of 200 for his career.