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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, September 21st (All times Eastern)

Los Angeles Dodgers (77-73) at Cincinnati Reds (91-59), 7:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Los Angeles - Joe Blanton (9-13, 4.97) Cincinnati - Bronson Arroyo (12-8, 3.74)

(Sports Network) - The Cincinnati Reds know they aren't done yet.

One day after locking up a postseason berth, the Reds hope to give themselves a chance at the NL Central crown on Friday evening in the first of three straight games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Cincinnati clinched at least a wild card berth with Thursday's 5-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs and now eye the division title. The Reds can clinch their second first-place finish in three years with a victory tonight as well as a loss by the St. Louis Cardinals, who trail Cincinnati by 11 games in the standings.

With a division title just about guaranteed, the Reds are also battling the NL East-leading Washington Nationals for the league's best record. Both teams currently have 91 wins, but the Reds have one more loss.

Joey Votto drove in a run and Johnny Cueto hurled six innings of five-hit ball to win Thursday's game.

"Anything less than winning the World Series is selling ourselves short," Votto said. "That's our goal."

Cincinnati was again without manager Dusty Baker, who remained in a Chicago hospital because of an irregular heartbeat. Baker is hoping to be in Cincinnati for tonight's game, but isn't expected to manage.

Bench coach Chris Speier has filled in for Baker over the last two games.

The Reds hope to clinch tonight behind Bronson Arroyo, who had a string of five straight winning decisions snapped on Friday with a loss at the Miami Marlins.

Arroyo yielded four runs on nine hits and two walks over six frames, striking out six in his first loss since Aug. 6.

"Bronson didn't do badly, we just didn't put up any runs," Baker said of his starter. "He just made that one mistake on (a solo homer to Miami's Greg) Dobbs. Other than that he threw the ball pretty well."

The right-handed Arroyo is 12-8 with a 3.74 earned run average in 29 starts this season.

In 14 career meetings with the Los Angeles Dodgers, including 13 starts, the 35-year-old Arroyo is 5-4 with a 3.92 ERA.

Once contenders for the NL West crown, the Dodgers are playing themselves out of a postseason berth as they sit three games behind the Cardinals for the league's second wild card spot. They lost for the 10th time in 14 games on Thursday, falling 4-1 to the Washington Nationals.

Chris Capuano allowed four runs -- three earned -- on six hits and a walk for the Dodgers.

"We're going in the wrong direction," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.

Mattingly hopes that Joe Blanton can earn his second victory tonight with Los Angeles since coming over in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies. The righty is just 1-4 with a 6.07 ERA in eight games since the deal and did not factor into a victory over the Cardinals on Saturday after yielding three runs over 5 2/3 innings.

Blanton, 31, is 9-13 with a 4.97 ERA in 29 total appearances this season as well as 2-0 with a 4.85 ERA in four career starts versus the Reds.

The Dodgers won two of three versus the Reds at home in early July.

09/21 10:47:13 ET

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