Reds face former ace Johnny Cueto in finale vs. Marlins

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Two teams struggling with the dog days of August look for some momentum as the Miami Marlins visit the Cincinnati Reds for the rubber game of their three-game series in a Wednesday matinee

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The Marlins send a former ace from Cincinnati’s last division winner in 2012 to the mound in search of his first win of 2023 as right-hander Johnny Cueto (0-3, 5.32 ERA) makes his fifth start of the season. The 37-year-old will be making his sixth career start against the Reds. He sports a 2-1 record with a 3.23 ERA and 32 strikeouts over 30 2/3 innings in the previous five meetings

In eight seasons with Cincinnati, Cueto was 92-63 with a 3.21 ERA, including a National League All-Star selection in 2014, when he was also runner-up for the NL Cy Young award

The Reds counter with perhaps a younger version of Cueto in hard-throwing right-hander Graham Ashcraft (6-7, 5.18). The 25-year-old has been Cincinnati’s most dependable starter of late, going 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA in his last seven starts

The Marlins ended a five-game skid Tuesday night with a 3-2 win made possible by Jorge Soler belting a go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh inning. It was his second homer in as many games but his first from the leadoff spot in the order

Despite homering in back-to-back games, Soler entered the game batting just .214 in August. To jump-start Soler and the Marlins — batting just .244 this month entering the game — Marlins manager Skip Schumaker moved him up to the top spot in the order

Soler, with baseball’s batting average leader Luis Arraez batting behind him, responded with a 3-for-3 effort, including the game-winning two-run shot

“We’re just trying to mix it up a little bit, trying to get the best spot where they feel most comfortable,” Schumaker said

Soler took a liking to batting leadoff for the first time this season early. He hit the fourth pitch of the game, a cutter below the zone, out to left field for a single, but was stranded at first

The win was just the second in nine games for the Marlins

As for the Reds, they snapped a six-game skid on Monday night but fell Tuesday for the seventh time in eight games and dropped to 1-4 on their six-game homestand

Cincinnati did get an emotional boost Tuesday when Stuart Fairchild took advantage of a misplayed triple by Miami right fielder Jesus Sanchez, running through third base coach J.R. House’s stop sign and scoring on Arraez’s throwing error to give Cincinnati a 2-1 fifth-inning lead

“We were all yelling, ‘That’s a homer!'” Reds manager David Bell said of the mood in the dugout. “Nothing against their team or the player but as soon as it got by and got into the corner right there and Stuart can fly. So, we thought there was a chance that it was going to happen. And sure enough, it was.

In each game of the series thus far, the Reds‘ struggling offense has manufactured just six hits

“There’s no worry, no panic,” said Reds center fielder TJ Friedl. “There’s no panic in the clubhouse. We all have the same goal. We have the same mindset. We’re going to come out each and every day, and we’re gonna play hard, we’re gonna play aggressive. And that’s our mindset — nothing’s changed. Even when we lose, nothing changes.

–Field Level Medi

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