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CIN@ARI: Leake tosses eight innings of two-run ball

The Reds will look to turn around their losing ways, having dropped six of their last seven, when they send one of the hottest pitchers in the Majors to the mound in Arlington against the Rangers on Saturday.

That man is Mike Leake, whose 2.61 ERA has him among the likes of Felix Hernandez, Adam Wainwright and Stephen Strasburg -- impressive company for Cincinnati's fifth starter.

What may be even more impressive is his 5-1 record and 1.31 ERA over his last eight starts, including a perfect game bid that lasted into the sixth against the D-backs in his last outing.

"He did great," Reds teammate Jay Bruce said of Leake's most recent start. "He pitched a great game. ... I think Leake has arguably been our best pitcher and the most consistent pitcher all year."

However, he'll be in tough against the streaking Rangers, who have won eight of their last nine.

"They've got a good team," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I'd like to win a series. We need to win. We have to break this losing streak. We have to break this losing streak against the American League and the American League West."

The Reds will be up against Nick Tepesch, who's been a bit of Jekyll & Hyde in his last 10 starts this season.

In those outings, he's allowed five earned runs or more five times. In the other starts, he's allowed no more than two earned runs and has a 1.88 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings.

Last time out against the Cardinals, Tepesch allowed only one earned run on four hits and two walks, notching four strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.

"He did a tremendous job, especially going up against Wainwright and matching his zeros," Rangers manager Ron Washington said after the game. "He had good focus to do a great job against that type of pitcher."

Rangers: Ogando, Lewis getting closer in recovery
• Texas is closer to adding two valuable arms to its staff.

Right-handers Alexi Ogando and Colby Lewis both threw bullpen sessions Friday.

Ogando threw 50 pitches and will face live batting practice before beginning a rehab assignment.

"If everything goes well, we might have to start setting up some live BP," Washington said. "If that goes well, we can send him out of here."

Lewis, who had a setback in Spring Training, threw 25 soft pitches, but hopes to be back by the end of July if everything goes well.

"I thought I'd be back a little bit sooner, especially after coming back in Spring Training," Lewis said. "I felt really good coming out of that, but I've had a setback."

Unlike Ogando however, Washington would like to see Lewis amp it up a bit before seeing live batting practice.

"He only threw 25 pitches [in his last session], and it was soft," Washington said. "When he gets up there and starts letting it go, then we can get to that part."

Reds: Baker fond of Rangers manager
• Despite facing off this weekend, Baker is fond of Washington, his former teammate and opposing manager.

"He was my teammate and at that time, he was a little rookie. I'm proud of what he has done," Baker said. "He has a very good organization that he's helping to run there. Ron is in the way. He's a friend, but we've got to beat him."

The two were teammates briefly in 1977, and they are two of the three active African-American managers.

• Second baseman Brandon Phillips rejoined the Reds on Friday after spending the last two days away from the team on the paternity list.

"That's a big part of our offense," Baker said of Phillips, who went 2-for-4 on Friday. "The guy is second in the league in RBIs and the first on our team. We missed him even though it was only two days. You never know what could have happened in those two days. I'm just glad to have him back."

To make room for Phillips, infielder Henry Rodriguez was optioned to Triple-A Louisville. Rodriguez, who was called up to replace Phillips, did not appear in either game of the series against the A's.

Worth noting

• The Rangers are 7-5 vs. the National League in 2013, including a 2-0 mark at home. The club has a 43-22 (.662) Interleague mark since the start of 2010, the best winning percentage in the Majors.

• The Reds have lost six of their last seven games, including three to AL clubs. They are 4-6 in Interleague Play this season. Comments