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Los Angeles at Cincinnati

Venue: Great American Ball Park

The Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers are in great position to make the playoffs, but the Reds would love to head to the postseason as NL Central champions.

To boost its hopes of claiming that title, Cincinnati could use an improved performance against the Dodgers and a better outing from Mike Leake in Friday night's series opener.

The Reds (79-62) own a seven-game advantage for the NL's final wild-card spot, but they're also within three games of Pittsburgh in their division after winning three of four over second-place St. Louis this week.

Cincinnati outscored the Cardinals 18-9 and posted a 1.67 ERA during the set, which concluded with a 6-2 victory for the Reds on Thursday.

"That was a big series right there," manager Dusty Baker said. "(A 5-4 loss in 16 innings Wednesday) still hurts, but that's OK. We've got a resilient team."

The Reds' next opponent has a sizable lead in the NL West, and the Dodgers helped themselves in that race by winning six straight before a 7-5 loss in Colorado on Wednesday. The big cushion has allowed Los Angeles (83-56) to give star rookie Yasiel Puig some time to rest an ailing knee.

Puig had a pinch-hit appearance Wednesday, but manager Don Mattingly wouldn't say if he would return to the lineup Friday.

Given his recent starts, Leake (11-6, 3.51 ERA) likely wouldn't mind seeing the .350 hitter on the bench. The right-hander is 1-2 with a 7.22 ERA in his last six starts and gave up six runs over 4 1-3 innings in a 7-4 loss in Colorado on Sunday.

"I still feel like I'm making pitches," Leake said. "Just two or three mistakes per game kind of got me."

Leake will try to end his slump while helping the Reds improve on their 3-7 record against the Dodgers since the beginning of last season. Los Angeles won three of four at home in the only other matchup this season July 25-28 and has won four of its last five games in Cincinnati.

Leake is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts against Los Angeles. In this matchup, he'll pitch opposite Chris Capuano (4-7, 4.41), who is starting in place of an ailing Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Ryu is dealing with back stiffness and Capuano might prove a capable replacement as he has a 0.71 ERA in his last two starts against Cincinnati. He gave up three hits over 6 2-3 innings in a 1-0 victory July 28 and heads into this game after a strong performance against San Diego on Saturday.

Capuano allowed one run over seven innings but did not get a decision in a 2-1 victory, keeping him winless in his last five outings. The left-hander is competing with recently acquired Edinson Volquez for time in the rotation.

"There's always pressure in a sense that there's always someone ready to take your spot if you're not getting it done," Capuano told the team's official website. "The only pressure is me just trying keep up with these other guys and give us a chance to win."

Joey Votto is hitting .444 (8 for 18) against Capuano but is 4 for 37 (.108) in his last 10 games. Andre Ethier is 5 for 9 with two homers versus Leake.

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
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Probable Starters

Chris Capuano, LHP
2013 stats
102.0 Innings Pitched 169.1
4-7 Wins-Losses 11-6
4.41 Earned Run Average 3.51
23 Walks 42
76 Strikeouts 103
84 Pitches Per Start 94
Career vs. opponent
92.2 Innings Pitched 22.1
3-3 Wins-Losses 1-2
4.56 Earned Run Average 5.64

Mike Leake, RHP
weather image  Sunny. Mild.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Los Angeles1st NL West5745.559-5-5 W 1
Cincinnati4th NL Central4654.460185-5 W 3
vs Mike Leake
vs Chris Capuano

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Los Angeles
A. EllisKnee
C. FriasBack
C. HatcherOblique
C. KershawHip
B. McCarthyElbow
P. RodriguezElbow
H. RyuShoulder
J. TurnerLeg
S. Van SlykeNeck
N. AdcockUndisclosed
H. BaileyElbow
Z. CozartKnee
S. MarshallShoulder
D. MesoracoHip
J. MoscotShoulder
M. ParraElbow
Series Game Log
Apr 6CINCIN 5-2Diaz Watson 
Apr 8CINCIN 5-4Hoover Liz 
Apr 9CINCIN 3-2Chapman Scahill 
May 5PITCIN 7-1Lorenzen Locke 
May 6PITCIN 3-0Leake Cole 
May 7PITPIT 7-2Burnett DeSclafani 
Jun 23PITPIT 7-6Scahill Villarreal 
Jun 24PITCIN 5-2Leake Cole 
Jun 25PITCIN 5-4Villarreal Scahill 
Jul 30CINCIN 15-5Holmberg Burnett 
Jul 31CIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Aug 1CIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Aug 2CIN 1:10 PM EDT  
Sep 7CIN 1:10 PM EDT  
Sep 8CIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Sep 9CIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Oct 2PIT 7:05 PM EDT  
Oct 3PIT 7:05 PM EDT  
Oct 4PIT 3:05 PM EDT