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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, July 8th (All times eastern)

Cincinnati Reds (44-45) at Milwaukee Brewers (47-42), 8:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Cincinnati - Mike Leake (8-4, 4.03) Milwaukee - Zack Greinke (7-3, 5.66)

(Sports Network) - Second-year righty Mike Leake can exceed his rookie season win total tonight when the Cincinnati Reds visit the Milwaukee Brewers for the second of four games with their National League Central Division rivals at Miller Park.

Rickie Weeks hit a three-run homer and the Brewers survived John Axford's shaky ninth to beat the Reds, 5-4, in Thursday's opener.

Chris Narveson (6-5) was solid through six innings, scattering seven hits and two runs to pick up the win, Milwaukee's second straight.

Axford gave up solo home run in the ninth to Ramon Hernandez, but retired All- Star second baseman Brandon Phillips with runners at the corners to end the game.

Homer Bailey (3-4) was touched for five runs on eight hits in his six-inning start for the Reds, who needed 13 innings to beat the Cardinals in St. Louis on Wednesday.

Milwaukee leapfrogged into a first-place tie with St. Louis atop the Central, which has Pittsburgh a game behind in third place and the defending champion Reds now three games back in fourth.

Leake, who jumped straight from Arizona State to the majors in 2010, ended the season with eight wins in 12 decisions over 24 appearances and 22 starts.

He began this season as a fringe member of the starting staff, but pitched his way into a recurring role and has won five of his last seven decisions over eight consecutive starts since May 27.

The 23-year-old has pitched six innings or more in each of those eight outings and allowed three earned runs or less in six, including two performances with zero runs allowed.

Leake got a no-decision in Cincinnati's June 1 win against Milwaukee and was a 7-5 winner over Cleveland in his most recent start on July 3.

He is 3-1 in seven road appearances in 2011.

He'll face 27-year-old right-hander Zack Greinke, who's dropped two of three starts since ending a six-decision win streak.

The Orlando native was 6-1 on the season after a 5-3 win over St. Louis on June 11, but has dropped subsequent starts against the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees, while getting a no-decision at Minnesota and beating Tampa Bay.

His earned run average, which was 4.17 last season with Kansas City, has jumped from 4.69 to 5.66 in his last 20 1/3 innings.

He is 2-0 lifetime against the Reds, who have still won 23 of their past 29 versus the Brewers. That includes seven of the 10 meetings so far this season.

07/08 10:52:13 ET

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