Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 4/14/13
After a slow start, the Philadelphia Phillies appear to hitting their stride as they open a three-game road series against the slumping Cincinnati Reds. The Phillies will try for their fifth win in six games on Monday night when Cliff Lee takes the mound hoping to hand the Reds a sixth straight loss. Roy Halladay tossed eight strong innings to earn his 200th career victory and Laynce Nix broke a tie with his second pinch-hit homer in a 2-1 win at Miami on Sunday. The Phillies' pitching staff has a 1.79 ERA over 45 1-3 innings during the team's 4-1 stretch. Philadelphia (6-6) now turns to Lee as it tries to win for the eighth time in nine trips to Great American Ball Park dating back to Game 3 of the 2010 NL division series. It's outscored Cincinnati 34-12 in the last eight there. Lee (2-0, 1.08 ERA) has gotten off to a strong start, striking out 14 without a walk over 16 2-3 innings in his first two outings. He allowed two earned runs and came within one out of a complete game in an 8-3 victory over the Mets on Tuesday. "Cliff is awesome," third baseman Michael Young said. "Love playing behind him. He's a baseball player who pitches. He loves to compete." Lee has also pitched well against Cincinnati, going 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA over his last four starts. The left-hander will face a Reds team that looked as though it might snap its slide Sunday with a five-run, seventh-inning lead at Pittsburgh. Instead, the Pirates scored four in the seventh and six in the eighth, rallying for a 10-7 win. Another defeat Monday would give Cincinnati its longest skid since a six-game slide May 18-23, 2011. "It's a tough loss, the toughest one we've had in a long time,'' manager Dusty Baker said. "That was a rough day for all of us.'' Brandon Phillips went 2 for 5 with three RBIs after missing one game due to a family matter, but is 2 for 17 in his last five games against the Phillies. He's 9 for 22 with three doubles and a homer in his last five overall at home, though. While he has three hits in 16 at-bats off Lee, Jay Bruce is 13 for 27 with four homers and nine RBIs in his last seven games in this series. The Reds (5-7) hope to provide some run support for starter Bronson Arroyo (1-1, 5.25), who retired his first 15 batters before giving up four runs in the sixth inning on the way to a 5-1 loss at St. Louis on Tuesday. "He just started getting balls up and it happened so quickly,'' Baker said. "They were like boom, bat, boom." Arroyo is 1-6 with an 8.50 ERA and has surrendered 13 home runs in his last seven regular-season starts against the Phillies, but that win came Aug 22 at Philadelphia. He allowed only a Domonic Brown homer and two other hits over eight innings in that 3-2 victory. After he was given the day off on Sunday, Jimmy Rollins is expected to be back in the lineup for Philadelphia. Rollins has done some damage against Arroyo with six hits and a homer in 18 career at-bats. The Phillies took four of seven from the Reds last season.
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