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|9:35 AM PT10:35 AM MT11:35 AM CT12:35 PM ET12:35 ET16:35 GMT0:35 9:35 AM MST11:35 AM EST12:05 PM VEN20:35 UAE11:35 AM CT, September 5, 2019
Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio Attendance: 13,230
Gray looks to deliver Reds split with Phillies
After one of the most dominating months by a pitcher in team history, Cincinnati Reds right-hander Sonny Gray will try to stretch his winning streak to six games in the finale of the four-game series against the visiting Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday afternoon.
Gray (10-6, 2.80 ERA) went 4-0 in five starts last month with a 0.74 ERA, the lowest mark by a Cincinnati pitcher with at least five starts in August.
Gray will get a chance to split the series after Cincinnati dropped the first two games.
"He wants the ball," Reds manager David Bell told reporters after Gray's last outing, a no-decision in a 3-2 loss at St. Louis on Saturday. "He knows he can get the best hitters in the game out. It's fun to watch somebody that's locked in like that, that's competing like that."
Gray will face a Phillies lineup anchored by right fielder Bryce Harper, who is 1-for-10 in his career off the right-hander with five strikeouts.
Philadelphia will be extra hungry for a victory after missing a chance to gain ground in the National League wild-card race on Wednesday. The Phillies lost 8-5 with their best starter on the mound, Aaron Nola, and dropped three games behind the idle Chicago Cubs for the final wild-card berth.
"I'm glad it's a day game (Thursday), so we can come back and win the series," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told reporters after the Reds ended their three-game winning streak.
Gray faced the Phillies on June 9 and allowed three runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He didn't receive the decision in the 4-3 victory.
Since getting named as a replacement for Max Scherzer at the All-Star Game this summer, Gray said he has felt much more confident.
"Going to the All-Star Game this year definitely put me back into the mindset of, 'I belong here. I am one of the best in the game. Just go out there and act like it. Go out there and pitch like it,' " Gray said. "That's all I'm trying to do: Go out there and be one of the best in the game."
Gray will be opposed by left-hander Jason Vargas (6-7, 4.31 ERA), who's still looking for his first win since he was traded to the Phillies from the New York Mets just days before the trade deadline. He's 0-2 with a 5.18 ERA in six starts with Philadelphia.
Vargas faced his former team in his last outing and delivered his poorest performance since the trade, taking the loss after allowing five runs and nine hits in four innings of the 6-3 loss to the Mets on Saturday.
Vargas faced the Reds on April 30 and did not receive a decision in a 4-3 win. He allowed one run and three hits in 5 1/3 innings with five strikeouts and three walks. The Mets won in 10 innings.
Vargas is 1-2 in five career starts against Cincinnati with a 6.30 ERA.
Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez is 5-for-10 with a home run in his career off Vargas and could be back in the lineup after missing the first two games of the series with a hand contusion.
Suarez, who leads the Reds in home runs (40) and RBIs (87), didn't start Wednesday, but entered as a pinch runner in the eighth after third baseman Alex Blandino was grazed up high by a fastball and left as a precaution.
Cincinnati was already without center fielder Nick Senzel, who was scratched earlier Wednesday with a sore right shoulder.
Phillies outfielder Corey Dickerson left Wednesday's game not long after fouling a pitch off his left foot. He'll likely be available for the series finale, Kapler said.
--Field Level Media
Updated September 5, 2019