Surging Reds set to host NL-best Dodgers

The Cincinnati Reds beat the top team in the National League Central and the rain on Thursday night.

On Friday, the Reds will just have to beat the NL's best team.

Fresh off a series win over the Chicago Cubs that featured a rain-interrupted victory in the finale, Cincinnati will play host to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-game series that begins at Great American Ball Park on Friday.

The Dodgers own the National League's best record -- 29-16 -- and pace the NL West at the quarter-season mark.

The Reds' biggest opponent on Thursday turned out to be the inclement weather that consumed the stadium in the second inning with the Cubs ahead 2-0.

As the game continued and the rain became nastier, it appeared the home side had one last shot to at least tie the game -- in the bottom of the fifth.

Having produced just two harmless singles against Cubs starter Jose Quintana, Cincinnati scored three times in the frame on a homer by Jose Peraza, a wild pitch from Quintana and a go-ahead single by Eugenio Suarez.

The game resumed after a delay of nearly two hours, and the Reds tacked on an insurance run as Suarez lashed his second RBI single.

Relievers Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett, David Hernandez and Raisel Iglesias kept staff ace Luis Castillo as the pitcher of record after his 5 1/3 innings of work in the 4-2 win -- the club's fifth win in its last seven games.

Castillo (5-1, 1.90) is making his best pitch to be the last-place Reds' All-Star representative, but he has already convinced Cincinnati skipper David Bell.

"He's been consistent. He's had a good start every time out, starting with opening day," Bell said of Castillo, 26. "His makeup, the talent, the way he competes... There's no reason why he can't be one of the best pitchers in the game, and right now he is."

Bell will send out right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (2-1, 4.17), who will look to rebound from a poor start in San Francisco on Saturday, when he allowed four runs on eight hits in four innings.

In five starts against the Dodgers, DeSclafani is 1-4 with a 4.11 ERA.

Los Angeles left-hander Rich Hill (0-1, 4.20) will make his fourth start this season following a strained knee suffered in spring training.

Hill, 39, didn't make his first regular-season appearance until April 28, when he faced the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The lefty has struggled early in games, allowing five of his seven runs in the first inning across three starts.

In his last start, the opener of last weekend's home series against Washington, Hill started slowly as his first-inning issues crept up again. Former Dodger Howie Kendrick slugged a three-run homer on a curveball to lay the foundation in the Nationals' 6-0 romp.

That loss snapped the Dodgers' 10-game home winning streak, but manager Dave Roberts was more concerned about Hill's early problems in the opening inning, and said the staff had thought about altering Hill's preparation for his starts.

"If you look back to the last couple years, there was something similar to that where we sort of changed his regimen to combat that," Roberts said. "I haven't dug into Rich's pre-game routine because I still feel his intensity and intent is always there."

Hill is 4-3 with a 3.73 ERA in 11 career appearances (nine starts) against the Reds.

--Field Level Media
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