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CHC@CIN: Cueto stellar to earn 16th win vs. Cubs

Thursday's contest in Philadelphia will almost surely have implications beyond deciding the series outcome between the Reds and the Phillies.

The matchup on the mound pits two National League Cy Young candidates against each other as Reds righty Johnny Cueto toes the rubber with Phillies southpaw Cole Hamels.

Both aces are coming off consecutive wins and both are aiming to either set or match career-high win totals.

Cueto (16-6, 2.44 ERA) has already surpassed his career-high win total when he hit 13 wins and is looking to take over the Major League lead with his 17th win Thursday.

His 16 wins currently tie him for the most in baseball, and his 2.44 ERA is the outright best in the National League. He also ranks sixth in the NL with 169 2/3 innings pitched and ninth with a 1.13 WHIP.

Hamels (14-6, 2.94 ERA) is hoping for win No. 15 to match the win total he set back in 2007.

"That's kind of the evil number there. I haven't been able to get to it," Hamels said of the elusive 15th win. "It's nice, but you have to make all of your starts. You can't go on the DL. You have to pitch past the fifth inning so you can get a decision. Your team has to score you runs. There is a lot at play that people don't understand in winning ballgames."

Hamels has done pretty well in helping the Phillies win ballgames. He is fourth in the NL with 168 strikeouts, fifth with 171 1/3 innings and a 1.11 WHIP, sixth with 14 wins and 10th with a 2.94 ERA.

The three-time All-Star has often been overshadowed by other aces in the Philly rotation, but he has certainly kept his eye on the prize this season.

"If you're able to be in that sort of run, it means you're keeping yourself healthy, you're pitching deep into ballgames and you're doing everything you're working toward in the offseason and Spring Training," Hamels said. "I would take that credit over anything, knowing I was accountable for everything I did. I worked hard and left everything out on the baseball field."

Reds: A lot goes in to calling up Hamilton
After top Reds prospect Billy Hamilton garnered national attention by setting the single-season professional baseball record with 147 stolen bases Tuesday night, many Reds fans have been wondering if his name will soon appear in Cincinnati anytime soon.

"It's been discussed. It's not my decision," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "You've got a lot of factors here. Once you put him on the roster, you have to keep him on the roster or somebody can claim him. We've asked about him, big time. There are more factors here than just me wanting him here."

The Reds may give the 22-year-old infielder an eye when the extended rosters come into play in September. As a club, the Reds have a total of 72 stolen bases this season.

• The Reds will likely regain the services of catcher Devin Mesoraco on Thursday. The rookie was initially suspended for three games for making contact with an umpire July 30, but appealed and had the suspension reduced to two games.

Mesoraco missed Tuesday and Wednesday night's games in Philly while the Reds played short with just 24 men on the roster.

Phillies: Frandsen keeping his name in starting lineup
Kevin Frandsen has earned himself another starting spot Thursday.

The 30-year-old shortstop is hitting .358 with two doubles, a triple, a home run and seven RBIs in 22 games this season, and had a game-tying triple in the eighth inning of Tuesday night's 5-4 loss to Cincinnati.

He was 3-for-4 in that contest with an RBI and a run scored, and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Frandsen would play in Thursday's series finale.

"[Frandsen has] been playing really good," Manuel said. "It's hard not to write his name in there. But at the same time, I also feel like we've got to get [Placido] Polanco some at-bats right now to get him going. Frandsen, I don't have to tell you how good he's been. He's been super."

Worth noting
• Reds closer Aroldis Chapman's ERA against NL teams is 0.32 and opponents are hitting just .120 off him. He has only blown a save against an NL club once all season.

• Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon has recorded at least one save against 29 different Major League clubs in his career except the Reds. If Papelbon records a save Thursday, he'll become just the 11th pitcher in MLB history to have one save against 30 different clubs.

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