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Reds open series vs. Giants in search of seventh straight win

By
Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto hits an RBI single in the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 22 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto hits an RBI single in the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 22 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

One team happy to be home meets another that's enjoying itself on the road Monday night when the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds open a three-game series.

The Reds, who had won just eight of their first 35 games in a start that cost manager Bryan Price his job, have been energized by the acquisition of Matt Harvey from the New York Mets, winning their last six games.

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The most recent four wins came in a shocking road sweep of the defending National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers, with a suddenly rejuvenated Reds pitching staff allowing a total of nine runs in the four games.

Harvey pitched the second game of the series against Los Angeles, shutting out the Dodgers on one hit in four innings of a 6-2 win. He did not get a decision.

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The former All-Star and Cy Young Award candidate is scheduled to pitch the finale of the series against San Francisco on Wednesday.

"It's a good first start," Harvey said after his Reds debut. "It's only four innings. There's a lot of work and a lot of season left."

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The Reds had everything going in their 5-3, sweep-completing win over the Dodgers on Sunday.

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Starting pitcher Luis Castillo pitched effectively into the seventh inning and reliever Amir Garrett struck out the side in the eighth to set up closer Raisel Iglesias' 1-2-3 ninth.

Eugenio Suarez and Joey Votto hit home runs, Alex Blandino executed a suicide squeeze bunt, and Billy Hamilton ran wild on the bases with three steals for the Reds.

Right-hander Sal Romano will get the ball in Monday's series opener. He has never faced the Giants in his two-year career.

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The 24-year-old has pitched well in his last two starts, allowing a total of two runs and seven hits in 11 1/3 innings in wins over Miami and the Mets.

The Giants got a season-best pitching performance from veteran left-hander Derek Holland in a much-needed 5-0 win at Pittsburgh on Sunday that capped a 4-6 trip.

Most important, it snapped San Francisco's six-game losing streak, making for a happier flight home, where the club will play its next seven games.

The Giants have won their last three home series.

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"We needed that in the worst way," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of the trip-ending win. "I said it would take a really good pitching effort to get us out of this. Give (Holland) credit. He took over and did a great job."

The Giants will call upon right-hander Chris Stratton to build upon any momentum gained against the Reds.

Like counterpart Romano, Stratton has never faced the Reds in his career.

Unlike Romano, the 27-year-old has struggled big time in his last three starts, getting roughed up for 14 runs and 17 hits in just 12 innings. The Giants lost two of those games by 15-6 and 11-3 counts.

Former Pirates star Andrew McCutchen had a successful individual homecoming effort in his first return to Pittsburgh since being traded during the winter, stroking four hits, including three doubles, in the three games.

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