Two clubs coming off rough series against National League elite teams kick off a three-game set Friday night when the Cincinnati Reds visit the San Francisco Giants.
Both teams required cross-country flights Thursday to arrive in San Francisco. The Reds were beaten 10-5 at home by the Los AngelesDodgers in the afternoon to complete a three-game sweep, while the Giants were falling 7-6 in Atlanta to drop a third in four days.
Right-handers Graham Ashcraft (3-1, 3.51) of the Reds and Alex Cobb (3-2, 5.62) of the Giants are the scheduled starters in the opener of a rematch of a three-game set in Cincinnati in May. The Reds came away with two wins in that series.
The Reds have lost seven in a row, including all six on a homestand split between the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers and Dodgers. They were shellacked 8-2, 8-4 and 10-5 by the Dodgers the last three days, falling victim to a 42-hit, seven-homer barrage.
Thursday's loss gave the Reds (23-46) the worst record in the NL. Only the Oakland Athletics (23-48) have more losses in the majors.
"We've talked about developing players and developing people. We're all very passionate about that," Reds manager David Bell said before heading to San Francisco. "But we're here to win. That's the fun part. That's what it's all about. Nothing about how you lose whether it's a close game or not is acceptable. It's not."
Ashcraft began his career last month with four brilliant outings, including shutting out the Giants on four hits over 6 1/3 innings in a 5-1 series-opening win.
The 24-year-old allowed just three runs in his first four starts, going 3-0, before getting roughed up by the St. Louis Cardinals and Brewers in his last two outings to the tune of 10 runs in 9 2/3 innings.
He walked two and struck out one in recording his first major league win against the Giants on May 27.
Joc Pederson got one of the four hits off Ashcraft before driving in the Giants' only run of the game with a sacrifice fly off Cincinnati reliever Art Warren in the eighth inning.
Pederson was involved in an incident with Reds outfielder Tommy Pham before the game, with Pham slapping his rival over a fantasy football dispute from the previous season.
Despite claiming the incident was in the "rear-view mirror," Pederson found it necessary before heading home to caution Giants fans to lay off Pham.
"Our fans are classy and respectful," Pederson said. "There's a respect level that needs to be held up, and when you see games in New York or wherever they were where they start throwing stuff on the field, that is not OK and doesn't help any situation. It makes it so much worse. So just keep it respectful."
Cobb is winless in his last three outings, having given up 10 runs in 16 innings.
He started a 6-4 win at Cincinnati on May 29, getting no decision after limiting the Reds to two runs and four hits in six innings.
The 34-year-old has never lost to the Reds, going 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three starts.
Pham homered, his 10th of the season, in Thursday's defeat.
--Field Level Media