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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, August 18 (All times Eastern)

Cincinnati Reds (61-63) at St. Louis Cardinals (66-57), 8:15 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Cincinnati - Mike Leake (9-11, 3.59) St. Louis - Justin Masterson (6-7, 5.58)

(SportsNetwork.com) - If Justin Masterson needed a get well opponent, he may have found one in the Cincinnati Reds.

The right-hander aims for a fourth consecutive defeat of the Reds on Monday when the St. Louis Cardinals host them in the opener of a three-game series at Busch Stadium.

Masterson came over from Cleveland on July 30 and had allowed 10 runs and 14 hits in his first two appearances with the Cardinals before tossing seven scoreless innings in a 5-2 win over the Miami Marlins on Wednesday.

"I pray to the good Lord that this is on the right path," he said.

To Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, the veteran's rebound was hardly a surprise. Masterson won 14 games with the Indians in 2013 and had an earned run average below 3.50.

"(It) was just a great sign of the kind of pitcher he can be when he gets it all put together," Matheny said. "It couldn't have happened at a better time."

Masterson was dinged for nine runs in his initial 11 2/3 innings against the Reds, but has won three straight against them while surrendering just two earned runs in his last 23 innings, while recording 21 strikeouts.

St. Louis has lost just three of nine games with the Reds in 2014 and has won six straight home series against them.

Cincinnati right-hander Mike Leake has split two decisions against the Cardinals this season while allowing just two runs in 14 innings. He was a 4-0 winner in St. Louis on April 9.

He'd allowed only three runs in his last three starts before surrendering five runs in a 5-4 loss to Boston in his last outing on Wednesday.

The Reds have lost seven of nine overall, including an ugly doubleheader sweep in Colorado.

Closer Aroldis Chapman walked all four batters he faced in the ninth as the Reds blew a four-run lead in losing, 10-9, in Game 1. They led, 5-2, in the nightcap before Colorado scored eight runs over the seventh and eighth innings for a 10-5 victory.

"The first one got away from us and the second one got away from us," manager Bryan Price said.

The Reds may see the return in this series of Brandon Phillips, who's not played since early July thanks to a thumb injury.

On Sunday in St. Louis, Matt Carpenter went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI and the Cardinals hung on to down the San Diego Padres, 7-6, in the finale of a four-game series.

The Padres worked three walks against Trevor Rosenthal to load the bases in the ninth. Rosenthal was pulled for Seth Maness with one away, and Abraham Almonte greeted him with a two-run single to center to pull San Diego within 7-6.

Matt Adams saved the tying run from scoring with a diving stop of Seth Smith's ground ball to first base. Adams dove to his right and got just enough of the ball to stop it from going into the outfield, and second baseman Kolten Wong gathered it and threw Smith out at first.

With the go-ahead run at second, Maness got Yasmani Grandal to fly out to left to secure his second save.

08/18 10:45:27 ET

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