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MIA@ARI: Skaggs earns the win in his MLB debut

When Tyler Skaggs takes the hill for the D-backs in the series opener against the Reds on Monday, Arizona will have used more starters -- six -- in the past week than Cincinnati did in its first 120 games combined.

The Reds' streak of starting stability, snapped last Saturday, was the longest in the Majors this season. It only ended when a doubleheader required an extra arm to keep the others in turn.

D-backs manager Kirk Gibson's use of six pitchers this week was also necessitated by a doubleheader on Wednesday. The extra arm added to the mix belonged to the 21-year-old Skaggs, who turned in 6 2/3 innings of two-run, three-hit ball in his Major League debut against the Marlins.

That outing so impressed Gibson that he was planning to give Skaggs at least one more turn as part of a six-man rotation. But Sunday's trade of scheduled starter Joe Saunders likely means Skaggs will be going every fifth day down the stretch, beginning with his Monday outing in which he will try to reverse the D-Backs' fortunes after a sweep at the hands of the Padres.

"We had six starters and with our young guys developing and performing here, we felt this was the correct move," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "We're going to keep Tyler in the rotation, just give him an exposure to the situation we are in, in a pennant race, that'll do him well for next year as well."

On Monday, Skaggs will be opposed by Bronson Arroyo and the first-place Reds, who are looking to solidify their lead in the National League Central -- which stands at six games over the Cardinals -- heading into September.

Arroyo has been solid all year, having already eclipsed his 2011 win total when he beat the Phillies for his 10th victory on Wednesday. The right-hander has been stellar in his last three starts, winning all three and pitching to a 2.82 ERA, including eight innings of three-hit ball against Philadelphia.

Though the Reds are in strong position as the final month of the season nears, their manager Dusty Baker knows these games are crucial.

"These are big games on the road for us in order to get some momentum to come back home," said Baker. "We've been a good road team and I don't see why we won't have a good road trip."

D-backs: Saunders sent to Baltimore
The D-backs announced Sunday that they traded Saunders to the Orioles in exchange for right-handed reliever Matt Lindstrom and either cash considerations or a player to be named later. Trevor Cahill took the hill in Saunders' stead Sunday.

Saunders was 6-10 with a 4.22 ERA in 21 starts with Arizona this year. The 31-year-old is 75-62 in his eight-year career with a 4.17 ERA.

Reds: Votto nearing return
Star first baseman Joey Votto -- the 2010 NL Most Valuable Player -- was on the field for batting practice Saturday and is "very, very close" to a return to the lineup, according to Cincinnati skipper Dusty Baker. Votto will begin a two-day rehab assignment at Class A Dayton Tuesday, and he may be ready to rejoin the Reds in Houston on Aug. 31.

Votto has been out since July 16 due to damaged cartilage in his left knee that required two surgeries in that span. Surprisingly, the Reds haven't missed a beat without him, going 27-12 since the injury.

Worth noting
• The Reds have not used a left-handed starter this season.

• D-backs closer J.J. Putz has held opponents scoreless over his last 21 outings, the second-longest streak in club history to Brandon Lyons' 24-outing stretch in 2008. Putz has converted 17 straight save opportunities, the fourth-longest active streak in the Majors.

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