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CIN@MIA: Leake has strong start over six innings

Last weekend's series between the Reds and the Marlins was an emotional one, as both clubs gear up for the rematch starting Friday night at Great American Ballpark.

The Reds, who have won three in a row, recently took three out of four games from a Marlins team that had won eight of its last 10 and had outscored opponents, 40-28, in that span.

Cincinnati outscored Miami, 16-8, and yielded just five hits in 24 chances with runners in scoring position. The series win was the Reds' first since the All-Star break.

And Mike Leake's ability to get out of jams was one of the main reasons the Reds left Marlins Park victorious, going six innings and allowing one run on three hits while walking four and fanning five in the club's 7-3 win on Sunday.

Leake escaped a bases-loaded, none-out situation, that was partially created by his own fielding error on a sacrifice bunt. He kept the Marlins' Nos. 1-6 batters hitless, while striking out Giancarlo Stanton three times.

Leake is 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA in three career starts against the Marlins.

Meanwhile, the Marlins' Nathan Eovaldi has only made one start against the Reds and it was last Saturday. The right-hander, who hasn't won a game since June 23, turned in what was arguably his best start of the season, allowing one run on two hits with six strikeouts.

Eovaldi needed nine pitches to get through a perfect first inning, and then ended up scattering only three baserunners through the next three frames.

What allowed him to get back to throwing like the Eovaldi from earlier this season -- the pitcher who struck out 69 batters and recorded 10 quality starts across his first 13 outings -- was his control of his offspeed pitches.

"You could tell he was a man on a mission. He carved through their lineup pretty good," manager Mike Redmond said after the game. "That's the stuff that we know he has. It's really just about consistency."

Marlins: Relievers cashing in on wins
With an eye on reaching .500 and climbing back into the National League playoff picture, the Marlins are pretty much putting individual numbers aside. The way the starting pitchers see things, it doesn't matter who gets the win, as long as the team wins.

It just so happens that Miami's bullpen has been picking up quite a bit of wins at 23-19. The 23 victories are second most in the NL and third-highest in the Majors. Only the Pirates (27) and Indians (25) have more.

Mike Dunn (9-5) has the most victories by a reliever in the Majors. A.J. Ramos has five wins.

Reds: Making playoff run as underdogs
Mathematically, the Reds have a chance to make a run at the playoffs. They're three games over .500 and four games out of first place.

A recent report predicted how the NL Central race will play out completely ignored the Reds, though, which didn't escape manager Bryan Price's notice.

He recognized that his club got off to a bad start in the second half, but he has confidence that his pitching staff and his lineup are going to make the race a lot closer than people think.

"We know that we have a better club than has performed, and now those performances are starting to take place with a little more consistency, and hopefully that's enough for us to make a confident run these last six, seven weeks of the season," Price said.

Worth noting
• Over the past two seasons, the Reds have won 9 of 11 games against the Marlins.

• Miami's pitching staff has not allowed a homer in 10 consecutive games.

• Since going 3-for-15 with two solo homers and six strikeouts against the Reds last week, Stanton is 3-for-11 with two walks, a two-run homer and three strikeouts. Comments