Owners of a firm 8 1/2-game lead in the National League Central and tied for the Majors' most wins, the Reds come into Tuesday's matchup with the Phillies having won eight of their last 14. While that does not compare to the 22-3 streak the Reds put together coming into August, they should be well positioned for another strong stretch over the next week. They are one game into a stretch of nine games at Great American Ball Park, where they have an NL-leading 42 home wins.
Cincinnati's rotation has been among the best and most consistent in baseball all season. It will send one of its best arms to the hill for the middle game of the series in righty Mat Latos. It will be the 24-year-old's 100th career start. He's made 27 starts this year, and is 11-4 with a 3.79 ERA.
Latos will try to hold down a Phillies squad that is still clinging to an outside shot at the postseason -- despite what many who follow the team might be saying. The Phils bounced back from a crushing ninth-inning defeat at the hands of the Braves on Sunday with Monday's series-opening win, and were just 7 1/2 games out of the last NL Wild Card spot, pending the result of Monday's Padres-Dodgers contest.
"I can imagine what [the media is] probably saying, but I don't actually read it. It's no extra motivation," veteran outfielder Juan Pierre said. "We've got a lot of older guys in here [who are] professionals, so we approach every game to win it. It's really no extra motivation. Just go out there and play."
That's exactly what the Phillies did in a 17-12 August, their best month of the season. Their run of success is attributable in large part to their starting pitching.
Phillies starters have a 2.43 ERA in their 16 last road games, and have posted the second-best ERA in the National League since the All-Star break. The Phils will send righty Kyle Kendrick (8-9) to the mound on Tuesday, as they go for a series win over the Majors' best squad.
"Cincinnati is right in the hunt, so we can mess up their thing. That's just the competitive nature. This team has been rolling all year," Pierre said. "This is an opportunity to slow them down and also help us get on track."
Phillies: Rollins one hit away from 2,000
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins went 1-for-4 in Monday's win, giving him 1,999 hits for his career. When he reaches the 2,000 mark, Rollins will be just the fourth player in Phillies history to do so. The other three -- Mike Schmidt, Richie Ashburn, Ed Delahanty -- are Hall of Famers.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, when Rollins collects his 2,000th hit, he will become the 30th switch-hitter to reach that number in Major League history. He already holds the Phillies' mark for hits by a switch-hitter.
Reds: Votto's return date soon, but uncertain
First baseman Joey Votto was set to play a final rehab game on Monday for Triple-A Louisville. According to his manager, Dusty Baker, that does not necessarily mean Reds fans will see the 2010 NL Most Valuable Player back in action with the big league club on Tuesday.
"It's up to him on how he feels," Baker said on Monday morning. "Joey will be here soon. We just can't say when."
Votto played for Louisville on Saturday after three rehab games for Class A Dayton last week. He landed on the disabled list on July 17 with damaged cartilage in his left knee that required two surgeries.
The Reds are expected to recall righties Todd Redmond and Pedro Villarreal from Louisville and lefty Tony Cingrani from Double-A Pensacola on Tuesday.
Phillies' outfielder Domonic Brown went 0-for-4 in his return to the lineup on Monday. Brown missed much of the past 10 days with left knee tendinitis.