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NYM@CIN: Leake goes the distance to notch the victory

One of baseball's hottest second-half teams, the Reds, will arrive in Philadelphia to start a four-game series Monday against a Phillies club that has not lived up to expectations in 2012.

But for whatever reason, the Reds have not fared well against the Phillies the past couple of seasons. They have lost their last six games against them and have not won the season series since 2003. Cincinnati is 9-20 all time at Citizens Bank Park.

Monday will be the first meeting of the season between the clubs. The National League Central-leading Reds enter having won eight of their last 10, while the Phillies, in fourth in the NL East, are coming off a split of a four-game series in Milwaukee.

"You could never sleep on them," Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan said of the Phillies. "They've had our number the last couple of years. But I think this team is different. We expect to win and expect to win games. They have veteran pitching and it's going to be tough. We'll have to have good at-bats and play good baseball to beat that team. I don't care what their record is."

Right-hander Mike Leake will toe the rubber for Cincinnati in his first start since throwing his second career complete game against the Mets on Wednesday.

"He had it going on, big time," Reds manager Dusty Baker said after a 6-1 win in which the 24-year-old allowed just four hits and walked none.

Opposing Leake will be right-hander Roy Halladay, the two-time Cy Young Award winner who has recently looked more like his old self. In his last four starts, Halladay is 2-2 with a 2.25 ERA, 27 strikeouts and three walks.

On Wednesday, Halladay allowed three runs on six hits in seven innings before the bullpen let the game get out of control.

"Obviously, I felt today I wasn't as sharp as my last start," Halladay said after Wednesday's 9-2 loss to the Marlins. "But I felt like I was still able to make good pitches and give us a chance and get deep in the game. I feel like earlier on [this season], if I wasn't really spotting it, I was in trouble. I feel like now I have more room for error. I feel like days when I'm not exactly where I want, I've got a chance to get us deep and give us a chance [to win]."

Reds: Votto resumes field work
Working his way back from left knee surgery, first baseman Joey Votto has resumed baseball activities.

A day after playing catch, Votto took ground balls at first base from third-base coach Mark Berry on Sunday. Afterward, he ran on the field.

On Aug. 10, Votto had a second minor operation to remove cartilage from his left knee.

"I'm healing every day and I'm able to do different things," Votto said on Sunday. "But it's going to take its time, whenever it's ready."

Votto will not accompany the club on its trip to Philadelphia.

"I know he hates not going, because even at Spring Training, he mentioned to me about beating Philly," Baker said. "That's probably been our toughest spot to play in the last couple of years -- or them, period."

Phillies: Polanco expected to return
Placido Polanco could return to the Phillies in time for Monday's series opener.

Polanco, who has been out since July 23 with lower back inflammation, played rehab games with Class A Clearwater on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The veteran third baseman went 5-for-12 with two RBIs and three runs scored.

When with the team in Miami on Wednesday, Polanco said he felt 100 percent but there was some lingering tightness in his back. He also said he feels he can play every day.

Kevin Frandsen has played well in Polanco's absence -- he racked up three more hits in Sunday's 8-0 win -- so there is a chance the two could platoon upon Polanco's return.

"I don't know what's going to happen," Polanco said on Wednesday. "I just want to be healthy for whatever. If [manager Charlie Manuel] plays me, he plays me."

• With one more stolen base, left fielder Juan Pierre would record his 11th season with at least 30 steals. His next swipe will put him in a six-way tie with Honus Wagner, Ozzie Smith, Bert Campaneris, Otis Nixon and Willie Wilson for the eighth-most 30-steal seasons in baseball history.

• After a string of 30 consecutive starts, Chase Utley got the day off Sunday. In that stretch, the second baseman hit .241 with six home runs and 15 RBIs.

Worth noting
• Leake is winless in three career starts against the Phillies. He is 0-1 with a 6.64 ERA.

• The Phils are 19-10 against the NL Central, the only division against which they have a record above .500.

• Before Monday's game, Jimmy Rollins will be honored on the field for surpassing Larry Bowa's mark for most games played by a Phillies shortstop.

• The pitching matchup for Thursday's series finale certainly presents some intrigue. Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto (16-6, 2.44 ERA) and Philadelphia's Cole Hamels (14-6, 2.94), have been mentioned in the conversation for the NL Cy Young Award. Comments