The Reds have embraced their home-field advantage. Great American Ball Park has not been kind to visiting teams.
Cincinnati's loss to Atlanta on Wednesday handed the Reds their first series defeat at home all season, after winning their first five series in their friendly confines. Still, Dusty Baker's crew enters this weekend's meeting with the Brewers with a Major League-best 13-6 home record.
The Brewers haven't tested the waters outside of Miller Park much this season. Their 11 road games entering Friday's series opener in the Queen City are the fewest in the Majors, and they are 5-6 in those contests.
Now they face 10 games in as many days against the top three teams in their division: the Reds, Cardinals and Pirates. It's a critical early-season stretch for a club that finished Wednesday 5 1/2 games behind St. Louis and 2 1/2 behind both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
"Definitely, this is an important road trip," said Yovani Gallardo, who will get the start on Friday. "Ten games, and they're all big, especially after losing those four against St. Louis here at home. Those next 10 games are going to allow us to make up some ground."
This is the first meeting of the season between the Brewers and Reds, who are favorites to repeat as National League Central champions.
"It's always fun when you see a team for the first time, like the Reds," Gallardo said. "They have a little different lineup than last year, so we'll see how it plays out. I haven't thought much about the division yet, to be honest. We just go out there and control our own thing; try to win games. Everything else is out of our hands."
Gallardo has run hot and cold all season, struggling in his first three starts (6.61 ERA) before winning his next three (2.29 ERA). In his most recent outing, the 27-year-old gave up four runs in six innings, dodging a decision in a 7-6 loss to St. Louis.
"Yovani threw the ball well [aside from] a couple of mistakes that they hit homers on," said manager Ron Roenicke.
The Reds will counter with 23-year-old Tony Cingrani, who has posted a 2.63 ERA over his first four big league starts. He allowed only three earned runs across his first three outings before yielding four in six innings against the Cubs on Saturday. The southpaw served up a pair of homers to Alfonso Soriano.
"I wasn't getting ahead of anybody," Cingrani said. "I was falling behind with everybody. I didn't really locate my fastball too well, and Soriano hit a couple of balls."
Brewers: Time winding down on Rodriguez decision
• The Brewers have about a week to decide whether Francisco Rodriguez fits into their bullpen plans. The right-hander is slated to pitch Saturday at Class A Brevard County. Milwaukee inked the veteran reliever to a Minor League contract on April 17. Rodriguez can opt for free agency if he isn't promoted to the big league squad within 30 days of his signing.
• Gallardo is 5-5 with a 4.75 ERA in 15 career starts against the Reds.
Reds: Votto's hit streak stopped
• For just the third time all season, Joey Votto did not reach base in a game Wednesday, when he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts against the Braves. Votto, batting .315 with a .451 on-base percentage, also saw his 10-game hitting streak come to an end. Center fielder Shin-Soo Choo also went 0-for-4 with two whiffs. Choo is batting .323 with a .453 on-base percentage.
• Cincinnati claimed nine of 15 meetings between the clubs last year, despite Milwaukee outscoring the Reds, 49-46.
• Reds reliever J.J. Hoover allowed a grand slam to Braves third baseman Juan Francisco on Wednesday. The two players were swapped in a trade on April 1, 2012.