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

The Reds got a much needed off-day Thursday after a stretch of 17 games in 16 days that included a day-night doubleheader on Aug. 18.

After completing a three-game sweep in Arizona on Wednesday, Cincinnati will begin a three-game set against the Astros before starting a nine-game homestand.

By the time the Reds return home, it will be September, which means the expanded rosters come into play. Triple-A Louisville's season concludes Monday, and Reds manager Dusty Baker said the club has been tossing around names and numbers for potential callups.

"We haven't really nailed it down yet," Baker said. "It depends on what you need and who deserves it."

It's a far different approach than the Reds took last season, when the postseason wasn't in store.

"Last year at this time, we were seeing what they could do, so to speak," Baker said. "Now we're in a different position. Now they're in a position to help, not necessarily to be seen."

The Astros are in a similar position as the Reds last year. Interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said the club will likely add to its roster soon in an effort to get some younger players big league experience.

"We're going to try to get a consistent lineup out there," DeFrancesco said. "We're going to try to give these guys some Major League at-bats."

But first, the two clubs have a divisional series to worry about.

Mike Leake takes the mound for the Reds in Friday's opener, coming off his sixth win of this season Saturday.

Leake surrendered 10 hits to the Cardinals, but he limited the damage to just two runs through 6 2/3 innings.

Leake will be opposed by Fernando Abad, who is making just his second career start after going four frames Saturday in New York.

Abad's performance out of the bullpen earned him a spot in the rotation, but the southpaw took a loss in his first start, allowing one run on four hits while walking four batters and hitting another one.

"We were real pleased with Abad," DeFrancesco said. "I told you he was going to be a new man when he came here. We were hoping to get five out of him, but four quality innings kept us in the game."

Reds: Chapman fires way into record books
At the ripe age of 24, closer Aroldis Chapman has already made his way into the Reds' history books.

Chapman tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning Monday to set the single-season club record for consecutive saves at 24 games, breaking the mark he shared with John Franco (1988) and Rob Dibble (1991).

"I feel happy now. I knew there was a record," Chapman said through an interpreter. "I'm happy it's me that broke this record and it's part of the history of this team."

Chapman, who chalked up his 25th consecutive save and 33rd overall Tuesday night, is 5-4 with a 1.27 ERA in 60 appearances this season.

• Joey Votto is on track to return to the Reds' lineup sometime during the series with the Astros.

Votto made his first rehab appearance for Class A Dayton on Tuesday night. In two plate appearances, he went 0-for-1 with a walk and a swinging strikeout while playing five innings in the field.

Astros: Clemens to make another start with Skeeters
Roger Clemens, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner, who pitched for the Sugar Land Skeeters last Saturday, will make his second appearance with the club on Sept. 7.

"My first start with the Skeeters was a great deal of fun," Clemens said in a statement. "There was lots of excitement in the air. I am looking forward to doing it again on Friday, Sept. 7. Stay tuned, I might have a few more surprises to come with the Skeeters."

The 50-year-old Clemens pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings against the Bridgeport Bluefish last week, allowing only one hit -- a single -- and threw 37 pitches, 24 for strikes.

"We're having fun," Skeeters president Matt O'Brien said in a statement. "Our inaugural season has been wildly successful already. Having Roger on the club has been nothing short of outstanding for the players, the fans, the Atlantic League and the Skeeters."

Worth noting
• Astros right-hander Shane Reynolds will be inducted into the Astros Walk of Fame on Friday. The ceremony will take place outside Minute Maid Park and be hosted by Astros television broadcaster Bill Brown.

• While Todd Frazier's role may be in question upon Votto's potential return this weekend, Baker emphasized that the rookie infielder will still get some action, filling in at first base, third base and left field when days off are needed for Votto, Scott Rolen and Ryan Ludwick.

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