June 21, 2016

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cincinnati Reds opened a two-game series by handling the Texas Rangers like few teams have done lately.

Now the Reds head into Wednesday night at Globe Life Park looking for a sweep.

Cincinnati's 8-2 win in Tuesday's opener snapped the Rangers' seven-game winning streak. It was only Texas' fifth loss in June, and the eight runs were the second most scored by an opponent since May 28.

The Reds got home runs from Jay Bruce and Zack Cozart, and improved to 11-8 this month. Cincy also evened its record at 4-4 on a three-city, nine-game road trip with right-hander Dan Straily (4-3, 3.66 ERA) going in the finale against Texas.

The Reds' bullpen should get a boost with Michael Lorenzen expected to come off the disabled list Wednesday. The right-hander has been out since March with a sprained right elbow before contracting mononucleosis in April.

Lorenzen, 24, made 21 starts as a rookie last season, but has been in the bullpen during his rehab starts. He is ready to get back on the mound.

"I have visualized this since the offseason," Lorenzen told MLB.com. "I'm ready. I've been here before, multiple times. I've been visualizing it. I'm ready.

"There are no jitters. It's more of a freedom than anything. I'm finally free. I've put the work in. Now it's time to go out there and express myself the way I best know how to."

The Rangers (46-26) continue to lead the American League West by 9 1/2 games over Seattle despite Tuesday's setback. Texas, owners of the second-best record in the majors to the Chicago Cubs, is also 25-11 at home and 5-2 this season against the National League.

The Rangers are playing their last in a stretch of 20 consecutive games. Manager Jeff Banister has already said that he doesn't plan to skip the fifth starter Friday, electing instead to give his rotation an extra day of rest.

The skipper wants Ian Desmond to have Wednesday off and play Ryan Rua in center. Banister could also use an easy night for his bullpen.

Relievers have racked up 17 innings in the last four games. Sending ace Cole Hamels (7-1, 2.88 ERA) to the hill is the possible first step to getting some much-needed rest.

"Having Cole going (Wednesday) and an off day afterwards," Banister said. "Look for a solid start from Cole. It's not how you want to draw it up at all. Those guys have been really throwing the ball very well and getting the outs."

Hamels, 32, has gone 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA over four starts this month, and has completed at least seven innings in each outing.

The Reds were without Joey Votto due to illness Tuesday, but he is expected back in the lineup for the series finale. Reds manager Bryan Price will celebrate his 54th birthday Wednesday.

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