The reeling Milwaukee Brewers have provided Cincinnati with an opportunity to successfully rebound from a rough eight-game stretch.
Attempting to sweep their first series at Miller Park in six seasons, the Reds try to hand the major league-worst Brewers a ninth consecutive defeat Thursday.
Cincinnati (8-7) lost seven of eight, including five of its first six on a 10-game trip, before winning three straight at Milwaukee. The Reds haven't swept a road set from the Brewers since Aug. 25-27, 2009, or taken all four in a series there since 2002.
Milwaukee (2-13), meanwhile, is mired in the worst start in club history and in danger of losing nine straight for a second consecutive season. Since owning a 2 1/2-game lead in the NL Central on Aug. 19, the Brewers are 13-38.
''It's brutal,'' Milwaukee owner Mark Attanasio said. ''You turn on the TV every night and expect to see something different, and I know one of these nights we will.''
One night after the teams combined for 25 hits and three grand slams in Cincinnati's 16-10 win Tuesday, they totaled nine hits while Johnny Cueto and Jimmy Nelson each allowed a run over eight innings before Billy Hamilton scored the go-ahead run on a ninth-inning wild pitch in the 2-1 victory.
Batting .386 with 14 RBIs, Cincinnati's Joey Votto recorded his fourth straight two-hit game and drove in his fourth run of the series Wednesday. He's batting .424 with 10 RBIs in his last eight games at Miller Park.
Teammate Homer Bailey looks for a better effort after he allowed five runs, nine hits and walked three over 5 2-3 innings during Saturday's 5-2 loss at St. Louis in his season debut. Back from forearm surgery, Bailey admitted he's not 100 percent and likely needs some time to find a comfort zone.
"It's good to get back out there, being with the guys playing," he told the Reds' official website. "We definitely need to sharpen up some things."
Bailey is 4-8 with a 4.94 ERA in 20 starts against the Brewers.
Ryan Braun is batting .355 with two homers and four doubles versus Bailey while Khris Davis is 7 for 18 with three home runs and two doubles against him.
Braun and Davis, however, were a combined 0 for 7 with three strikeouts Wednesday for the Brewers, who rank near the bottom of the majors with 42 runs and a .212 average.
After opening with three straight losing starts for the first time, ex-Red Kyle Lohse (0-3, 10.34 ERA) has the highest ERA among all major league starters and also ranks near the bottom of the majors with a .353 opponent batting average. The right-hander yielded six runs in six innings of a 6-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Saturday.
''I've fought in my career not doing too much and that might be the case now,'' Lohse said. ''I'm just trying to do too much."
Though Lohse hasn't given Milwaukee much of a chance in those three starts, his teammate have totaled four runs.
''It's frustrating because we have some good pieces in here," Lohse said. "We just haven't put it together.''
He's looked solid while going 7-5 with a 2.69 ERA in 20 starts against the Reds. Lohse tossed a two-hitter in a 5-0 win at Cincinnati on Sept. 24.
Votto is hitting .333 with a homer and four doubles versus Lohse.