The first-place Cincinnati Reds had not lost three straight games since mid-April until their current slump.
Cincinnati looks to avoid a season-worst four-game skid Friday night when it begins its first series with the Twins in nearly 11 years.
The Reds (38-30) entered their series with Cleveland riding a season-best six-game winning streak, but they were swept for the first time in 2012 with Wednesday's 8-1 loss, marking the fewest runs they've scored all month.
NL Central-leading Cincinnati hadn't lost three straight since April 12-14, and its three hits Wednesday were its fewest since a season-worst two on the final day of that slump."It was a tough three days," manager Dusty Baker said. "The first two days we had chances to win those games. They beat us up good (Wednesday). It's a strange game.
"It will be nice to get home."
The Reds hope Bailey can help them bounce back in the opener of their first series with Minnesota since July 6-8, 2001, when the Twins won all three games at home.
With the exception of allowing six runs over three innings in a loss to Pittsburgh on June 5, Bailey (5-4, 4.03 ERA) has been solid over his last seven starts. He improved to 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA in that stretch after giving up one run in eight innings of a 4-1 road win against the Mets on Saturday."Homer was outstanding," Baker said. "He's been pitching well."
He hasn't been nearly as good at home, going 1-2 with a 5.35 ERA while allowing nine homers in 33 2-3 innings. He's 4-2 with a 3.09 ERA on the road, holding opponents to two homers in 46 2-3.
Bailey has also struggled in his last six interleague starts, going 1-3 with a 4.72 ERA while the Reds have lost five times.
Minnesota (27-41), meanwhile, has dropped six of its last eight interleague contests after Thursday's 9-1 loss to Pittsburgh."As the story goes, if you don't pitch, you get whacked," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Somehow, that hasn't been the case recently when Nick Blackburn has pitched.
Blackburn (3-4, 7.48) is 3-0 with an 8.22 ERA in five starts - all Twins victories - since May 11 after allowing four runs in six innings Sunday against Milwaukee. He was 0-4 with a 6.84 ERA in his first five starts.
The right-hander has walked 11 and struck out 10 in his last five as opponents have hit .347.
Blackburn, who has never faced the Reds, has been awful in interleague play over the past few years as well, going 1-4 with a 10.57 ERA over his last seven crossover starts.
Brandon Phillips was hitting .415 with three homers and 11 RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak that ended with Wednesday's 0-for-3 performance, but the Reds have reason to expect to bounce back at home. They've averaged 5.7 runs and hit .300 in nine games at Great American Ball Park this month.
Phillips is 15 for 34 (.441) with three homers in his last eight home games.
Minnesota also struggled offensively in its series finale, as Justin Morneau went 2 for 3 with a double as the only Twin with multiple hits.
That marked Morneau's first extra-base hit since June 12, going 4 for 25 in the six games in between.
|June 17, 2012||Matt Capps||Day-to-Day||Sore right shoulder|
|June 17, 2012||Joe Mauer||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right quadricep|
|June 16, 2012||Joe Mauer||Day-to-Day||Sore left hamstring|
|June 15, 2012||Justin Morneau||Day-to-Day||Left forearm injury|
|June 14, 2012||P.J. Walters||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 13, 2012||P.J. Walters||Day-to-Day||Left game - right shoulder stiffness|
|June 12, 2012||Zack Cozart||Day-to-Day||Illness|
|June 06, 2012||Drew Stubbs||Day-to-Day||Strained left oblique|
|June 06, 2012||Drew Stubbs||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|May 12, 2012||Scott Rolen||15-Day DL||Strained left shoulder|
|May 12, 2012||Scott Rolen||15-Day DL||Strained left shoulder|
|April 19, 2012||Bill Bray||15-Day DL||Strained left groin|
CINCINNATI (AP) -- A pair of Twins had four hits apiece. The bullpen got one huge out after another. One friendly fan even offered manager Ron Gardenhire a hot dog during the game.
Minnesota's first game at Great American Ball Park had a lot to like - even without mustard and ketchup. Ryan Doumit and Ben Revere each had four hits Friday night in a 5-4 victory that gave the Cincinnati Reds their season-high fourth straight loss.
The teams played five straight seasons from 1997-2001, but hadn't met since then. The Twins were braced for a wild first game at Great American Ball Park, which opened in 2003.
They got it.
"Fun ballgame," Gardenhire said. "First time we've been here. Very exciting atmosphere, except for the guy wanting to feed me a hot dog. That wasn't great.
"He just came down in the stands, trying to hand me a hot dog. I think he thinks I'm too big. It was a nice gesture. Wished I could have taken it."
Instead, they took the opener of the interleague series.
Doumit hit a solo shot off Homer Bailey (5-5), who angrily left the field after failing to get through the sixth inning. Revere broke an 0-for-15 slump with four singles.
Chris Heisey and Scott Rolen had two-run homers off Twins starter Nick Blackburn (4-4), who lasted only five innings.
Plate umpire Jerry Layne left in the fourth after the barrel of a broken bat hit him on the left side of the head. The 23-year veteran fell on his back, got to his feet with help and went for tests at a hospital that came back normal.
"I heard the sound when it hit his mask," said Doumit, who was catching. "It was awfully loud. That's scary."
Revere, who grew up in neighboring Kentucky and had more than two dozen friends and family in the stands, also stole two bases, scored a run and had a sacrifice fly off Bill Bray that made it 5-4 in the sixth. It was his second career four-hit game.
After a rough series in Pittsburgh, Revere was glad for the change in venue.
"I had a pretty big cheering section tonight," he said. "I was just glad to get out of Pittsburgh (where) I'd hit it pretty hard up the middle and they'd snag it."
Doumit's four hits also matched his career high.
Minnesota's bullpen made it stand up. Alex Burnett escaped a bases-loaded, one-out threat in the sixth. Glen Perkins gave up a pair of singles in the ninth, but escaped with a pair of strikeouts for his second save in place of Matt Capps , sidelined since June 15 by a sore shoulder.
"I made the pitches when I had to," Perkins said. "Sometimes you win ugly."
Three of the Reds' losses during their skid have been by one run.
"We had chances big-time," manager Dusty Baker said. "We're piling up the one-run losses this last week. Those are games we could've won if we make one pitch or get one hit."
Minnesota's biggest concern was whether its starters would get rocked in a ballpark where homers are the norm. There's been at least one hit in each of the last 60 games, the longest current streak in the majors. The Twins' pitching staff has allowed a major league-leading 95 homers - 68 by the starters.
Eight pitches into the game, Blackburn gave up a two-run shot to Heisey. Blackburn has allowed at least one first-inning run in eight of his 11 starts.
Doumit's first homer since May 8 put the Twins up 3-2 in the fourth inning. Rolen, playing his fourth game since returning from a stint on the disabled list with a bum shoulder, hit his first homer since April 26, putting the Reds back ahead 4-3 in the fourth.
Bailey left after walking the bases loaded on his 106th pitch in the sixth inning, shaking his head in disagreement when Baker came to the mound. Bailey threw his cap on the ground in the dugout, then grabbed one of his bats from the rack and headed for the walkway to vent his frustration out of sight.
Bray relieved and walked in the tying run, then gave up a sacrifice fly by Revere that made it 5-4.
NOTES: The Twins are 8-8 in interleague play this season. The Reds are 6-7. ... Twins C Joe Mauer caught in the bullpen without a problem and pinch hit in the sixth, drawing a walk. He was replaced by a pinch runner. Mauer has been out of the lineup the last four games with a bruised right thigh. ... The Reds activated Bray off the DL before the game. ... The Reds will induct first basemen Dan Driessen and Sean Casey into their Hall of Fame before Saturday's game, along with 19th century player John Reilly . Cincinnati RHP Johnny Cueto will try for his fourth win in June.
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