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Preview: Phillies Head to Cincinnati to Take on Reds

(Sports Network) - As the weather is getting warmer, so are the Phillies' bats.

Given their past success against Reds starter Johnny Cueto, that isn't likely to change this evening when Philadelphia begins a three-game set versus Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park.

After averaging just 2.5 runs per game during an 8-17 stretch from May 18-June 15, the Phillies have plated 75 runs over their last 11 games, including 21 in their most recent set with the Blue Jays that saw Philadelphia take two of three.

The Phils capped the weekend series with an 11-2 triumph on Sunday as Jimmy Rollins and Ben Francisco both ended with three hits and two RBI. Poor defense by the Blue Jays also factored into the outcome, as six of Philadelphia's runs were unearned.

"We want to stay hot going into the All Star break," said first baseman Ryan Howard, who scored three runs on Sunday and has five homers and 12 RBI over his last 11 games.

Jamie Moyer reached a couple of milestones in winning Sunday's finale. He hurled seven innings of two-run ball and became the 40th pitcher in major league history to reach 4,000 innings pitched. However, he also allowed the 506th homer of his career, passing former Phillies great Robin Roberts for the most all-time.

Philadelphia, which has won five of its last six to get within 2 1/2 games of first place in the National League East, was without Placido Polanco for a second straight game after he aggravated a left elbow injury on Friday. He could also sit out tonight as well.

The Blue Jays series technically marked the opener of the Phillies' 10-game road trip, though the set was shifted from the Rogers Centre to Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park due to security concerns involving Toronto's hosting of the G20 Summit. The Phils were credited as the visiting team and batted first in the series.

The Phillies will try to keep their offense on track this evening against Cueto, who is 0-2 with a 15.26 earned run average in two career starts versus the club. Most of that damage came during a July 6 meeting in 2009, a contest won by Philadelphia, 22-1. Cueto lasted just two-thirds of an inning, allowing nine runs.

The 24-year-old right-hander has won seven of his last eight decisions this year however, and has allowed just one run over his last two starts after posting a 9.00 ERA in his first three outings of June. He gave up just a run in a tough-luck 1-0 loss to Seattle on June 18 before notching seven-plus shutout innings in besting Oakland on Wednesday. Cueto allowed seven hits while improving to 7-2 with a 3.97 ERA.

Kyle Kendrick opposes Cueto and he struggled his last time out. After going 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA in five previous outings, four of those starts, the right- hander yielded five runs -- four earned -- on six hits in four-plus innings versus the Indians on Wednesday. He did not factor into the decision of his team's 7-6 win and is 4-2 on the year with a 4.71 ERA.

"My command wasn't good," Kendrick told the Phillies' website. "I fell behind hitters. I left the ball up and got hit hard. I didn't do my job tonight."

Though the 25-year-old has allowed at least four runs in each of his three career starts versus the Reds and has never made it past the sixth inning, he is 3-0 with a 6.61 ERA against them.

The Reds hope for better results versus Kendrick tonight after having their five-game winning streak snapped with Sunday's 5-3 defeat to Cleveland.

Joey Votto had two hits, one a two-run homer, to extend his streak of reaching base to 35 straight games, while Bronson Arroyo allowed four runs over five innings.

"I felt pretty good today, actually, which is so ironic, " Arroyo said. "The last two times out I felt terrible and threw a lot of zeroes on the board and today I felt pretty good and you don't get the same results."

Despite the loss, the Reds remained a half-game up on the Cardinals for first place in the NL Central.

The Phillies took five of seven from the Reds last season and have won nine of the last 12 meetings overall.