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Reds open series with Rockies

(SportsNetwork.com) - Staff ace Johnny Cueto will get the start, but all eyes will be on the bullpen in the late stages of the game when the Cincinnati Reds open a three-game home series on Friday night with the Colorado Rockies at Great American Ball Park.

The game could mark the 2014 regular season debut of Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, who saved 86 games in the last two seasons but was unavailable early this year after being hit in the head by a spring training line drive on March 19.

The Reds have lost 18 of their first 33 games, including 11 by one run, and their relief pitchers have compiled a 4.40 earned run average, second-worst in the National League.

Cueto, meanwhile, has been outstanding in a starting role and has posted league-leading numbers in earned run average (1.31) and opponent batting average (.132), while slotting third in strikeouts (60) and second in innings (55).

He was a 6-2 winner over Milwaukee on Saturday after going eight innings and striking out 10.

In his last two meetings with Colorado, he's allowed 21 hits and 10 runs.

The streaking Rockies, winners in nine of 12 games, reply with Jhoulys Chacin in his second start of 2014.

He was out for the first month of the season with a strained shoulder and debuted on Sunday, when he was touched for eight hits and four runs in a 5-1 loss to the New York Mets.

He's faced the Reds three times in his career and is 1-2 with a 3.26 ERA.

On Thursday in Arlington, Prince Fielder homered as the Texas Rangers shut out the Rockies, 5-0.

Brandon Barnes and Michael McKenry both doubled for the Rockies, who entered the game with wins in six of their last seven. Franklin Morales (3-2) was belted for five runs -- four earned -- on six hits with three walks across six-plus innings in the loss.

On Wednesday in Boston, Will Middlebrooks capped a two-run eighth inning rally with a go-ahead RBI single, lifting the Red Sox to a 4-3 win over the Reds to finish a two-game sweep.

The Reds took a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning after chasing Boston starter Jake Peavy from the game, but the Red Sox rallied. Mike Napoli drew a walk off Manny Parra, went to second base when J.J. Hoover (1-4) walked Jonny Gomes and scored the tying run when A.J. Pierzynski's hit bounced into the seats in shallow right field for a ground-rule double.

After Hoover intentionally walked Jackie Bradley Jr., Middlebrooks slapped a hit up the middle for the go-ahead run.

Reds starter Mike Leake went seven innings, allowing two runs on eight hits and two walks but remained winless in his last four starts.

05/09 10:34:14 ET

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