The Cincinnati Reds went into the All-Star break on a positive note. They haven't slowed down since the second half started.
The NL Central leaders will try to extend their longest winning streak in two seasons to eight when they face the Colorado Rockies on Friday night.
The Reds (58-40) won three straight at San Diego to end the first half one game out of first place. Cincinnati has maintained that momentum, going 11-2 since the break, and the club is on the verge of its first eight-game run since May 31-June 8, 2006.
"I think it's just the combination of us playing good baseball and getting lucky bounces," center fielder Drew Stubbs told the Reds' official website. "That's the formula to winning a championship. I'm not saying at this point it's going to happen, but that's the type of stuff it takes to do it."
Stubbs went 7 for 15 with a homer and five RBIs in a three-game sweep at Houston to start the week.
Bronson Arroyo (5-6, 3.98 ERA) has been mostly strong over his past five starts, going 2-1 with a 3.41 ERA, and he bounced back from his one rough outing in that span his last time out. The right-hander pitched six innings of two-run ball in a 6-2 win over Milwaukee on Saturday after lasting a season-low three innings and giving up five runs in a 5-3 loss to Arizona on July 16.
"I feel like I'm the weakest link in the rotation right now," he said. "... That being said, I feel like I've thrown pretty good about 16 times (out of 19 starts)."
Reds starters have posted a 2.72 ERA during the winning streak, but improving that number could be a challenge as Arroyo is 0-2 with an 8.84 ERA in four starts at Coors Field. It's his highest ERA at any ballpark he's pitched at more than three times.
The Rockies (37-60) open a stretch of nine straight in Denver following a 2-4 trip that ended with a 4-2 win over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday.
Colorado will try to win two in a row for the first time since July 8 and 13 with Drew Pomeranz (1-5, 4.98) taking the mound. The left-hander had his last turn skipped due to arm soreness.
"We wanted to make sure that physically nothing is wrong and get him back out there," manager Jim Tracy told the Rockies' official website of Pomeranz, who gave up a career-high seven runs in three innings of a 9-5 road loss to the Padres last Friday.
This will be the first time Pomeranz faces Cincinnati since throwing five scoreless innings in his major league debut, a 4-1 victory Sept. 11 in the teams' last game in Denver.
The Rockies have won 20 of their last 25 at home against the Reds.
All-Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez , 5 for 11 off Arroyo, will return to Colorado's lineup after getting Wednesday off. He was 4 for 21 (.190) with seven strikeouts on the trip, but he's batting .429 with eight homers and 24 RBIs during a 25-game home hitting streak.
Rookie shortstop Josh Rutledge gets his first look at Reds pitching after going 10 for 25 with a homer, triple and three doubles on the just-completed trip.
The Reds have gone 8-2 without All-Star first baseman Joey Votto , who's out with a torn meniscus.
|July 16, 2012||Joey Votto||Day-to-Day||Torn meniscus, left knee - out 3-4 weeks|
|July 16, 2012||Joey Votto||15-Day DL||Torn meniscus, left knee|
|June 30, 2012||Joey Votto||Day-to-Day||Left game - left knee inflammation|
|June 28, 2012||Brandon Phillips||Day-to-Day||Head|
|June 12, 2012||Zack Cozart||Day-to-Day||Illness|
|June 06, 2012||Drew Stubbs||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|July 21, 2012||Drew Pomeranz||Day-to-Day||Left arm soreness|
|July 21, 2012||Jason Giambi||15-Day DL||Viral syndrome|
|July 20, 2012||Wilin Rosario||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower left leg injury|
|July 16, 2012||Chris Nelson||15-Day DL||Irregular heart beat|
|July 16, 2012||Jonathan Herrera||15-Day DL||Left wrist infection|
|July 09, 2012||Todd Helton||15-Day DL||Right hip inflammation|
DENVER (AP) -- Coors Field has given Bronson Arroyo fits in his career, but the right-hander finally got the better of the place for one night.
Arroyo pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Ryan Ludwick scored twice and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Colorado Rockies 3-0 Friday night for their eighth straight victory.
Ludwick, Scott Rolen and Ryan Hanigan had two hits apiece for the Reds, who have won 12 of 14 since the All-Star break and tied Washington for the best record in the National League.
"What it takes to win is pitching. That's what we've been doing," Rolen said. "Pitching and defense. It's hard to lose if you shut somebody out."
Friday, it was Arroyo providing timely pitching in the unlikeliest of places. Coming into the game he was 0-2 with an 8.84 ERA in three career starts at Coors Field. He put that disappointment behind with a strong outing against the Rockies.
"The game plan here is always tough for me because I throw so many breaking balls and it's hard to throw a sharp one in this atmosphere," Arroyo said. "I've had a hard time pitching here and getting off to a good start I knew was going to be a huge key. We got lucky a little bit where things were kind of rolling my way."
Arroyo (6-6) retired his first 11 batters before Carlos Gonzalez singled with two outs in the fourth. He started tiring as the game went into the seventh and let the bench know he was nearly out of gas.
"He said, `Hey, you better keep an eye on me this inning' before he went out," manager Dusty Baker said. "We know he was treading on thin ice when that inning started. They hit a couple of balls on the nose and right at people. That was a pretty good indicator it was time to go get him."
The right-hander left with two on in the seventh, but Alfredo Simon retired pinch-hitter Eric Young Jr. to end the threat.
"I had the shakes a little bit," Arroyo said. "I didn't want them to be surprised because my pitch count was so low and I wanted to let them know I felt like I had thrown 90-something pitches instead of the 70 I had thrown."
Arroyo allowed six hits and struck out three in 6 2-3 innings. It was the first time this season he won back-to-back starts.
"He's had a tough time here, but I'm glad we got him back to 6-6," Baker said.
Aroldis Chapman worked the ninth for his 20th save in 24 chances.
Gonzalez and Jordan Pacheco each had two hits for the Rockies, who have lost seven of nine.
Colorado's decline has resulted in some changes. After the game the team announced it had swapped infielders with San Francisco, sending Marco Scutaro to the Giants for Charlie Culberson .
Scutaro, 36, was acquired in the offseason from Boston.
"I really liked it here. Unfortunately, the season didn't go the way we expected in the beginning," he said. "That's the way baseball is. It's a business and I get to go to a first-place team."
The trade comes a week after the Rockies traded right-hander Jeremy Guthrie to Kansas City for lefty Jonathan Sanchez .
The Reds broke up a scoreless game when they got to Rockies starter Drew Pomeranz in the fourth. Brandon Phillips led off with a single and moved to second on a fly to right. Ludwick followed with a double down the left-field line to score Phillips.
Rolen singled off Pomeranz's right leg to put runners at the corners and Todd Frazier drove home Ludwick with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
The Rockies threatened in the fifth when Pacheco doubled with one out to put runners at second and third, but Arroyo struck out Josh Rutledge and got Pomeranz on a grounder to end the inning.
The Reds did most of their damage with the bottom half of the order.
"You hope it's somebody and you hope it's consecutive guys," Baker said. "That's how you score runs. You get a hit here, a hit there, you never really put on a threat. Everybody's pulling on the same end of the rope, everybody's doing their job and today we had different guys come through."
The Reds added another run in the sixth. Ludwick walked with one out and Rolen singled to end Pomeranz's night. Adam Ottavino came on and threw two wild pitches that allowed Ludwick to score, making it 3-0.
Pomeranz (1-6) gave up three runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings. He struck out five and walked one.
NOTES: Rolen played in his 2,000th career game. ... The Reds' eight-game win streak is their longest since May 31-June 8, 2006. ... On their off day Thursday, the Rockies visited victims of the Aurora theater shooting at a local hospital. ... The Rockies activated 1B Todd Helton from the 15-day DL and optioned RHP Edwar Cabrera to Triple-A Colorado Springs. ... The Reds will send RHP Johnny Cueto (12-5) to the mound against Christian Friedrich (5-7) on Saturday.