On paper, Mike Leake is the Reds' No. 5 starter. But lately he has pitched like an ace, aiming for his third straight win Saturday against the D-backs at Chase Field.
Leake (7-3, 2.64 ERA), who owned a 1.87 ERA in May, has been nearly as sharp in June, going at least seven innings and giving up only one run in each of his last two starts. It also marks a collegiate homecoming for Leake, who was a star pitcher for Arizona State.
But Patrick Corbin will have his own streak on the line as he tries to become the first pitcher in D-backs history to start the year 10-0. In his second season in the big leagues, Corbin's 2.28 ERA is the sixth-lowest in the National League.
After an utterly dominant May, Corbin has looked slightly more hittable in four starts this month. He earned a no-decision in a 3-2 loss to the Marlins on Monday, going eight strong innings and giving up only two hits, one of them a two-run homer to Giancarlo Stanton. In a June 12 start, however, he surrendered four runs in only five innings.
The D-backs, winners of three in a row, will look to grab their second straight series victory after taking the first game, 11-5, over the Reds on Friday night. Arizona is trying to add to its 2 1/2-game cushion over the Giants in the NL West.
Cincinnati owns a 29-21 record at Chase Field, and Reds manager Dusty Baker said he welcomed the opportunity to head West after 14 consecutive games against the NL Central.
"I think we've played the West less than anybody in our division," Baker said.
"It's really a matter of importance how we do against the West, especially before the [All-Star] break and after."
Leake has struggled in three career starts against Arizona, collecting a 7.94 ERA with D-backs sluggers hitting .329 against him. It is Corbin's first career start against the Reds.
D-backs: Parra's blazing bat
D-backs leadoff man Gerardo Parra has at least one hit in 14 of his last 15 games, and he is 20-for-60 (.333) over that stretch.
Parra smashed his fifth leadoff homer of the year Friday night, a mark that leads the Majors.
• Second baseman Aaron Hill should be back in the lineup soon after making his fifth rehab start with Triple-A Reno on Friday night.
Hill, who broke his left hand in mid-April, went 1-for-4 with two RBIs on Friday.
Reds: Road runners
Cincinnati's loss Friday night was just its ninth in its last 26 road games. The Reds lost eight consecutive games on the road in April but have turned that streak around in dramatic fashion, winning five of their last seven road series.
• In addition to being one of the Reds' most reliable arms, Leake is one of the most dangerous pitchers with a bat in his hands.
Leake has led the NL in batting average in two of his first three seasons and has two three-hit games and eight more two-hit games in his career. This year, he is batting just .152 (5-for-33), but he does have an RBI.
The D-backs improved to 13-3 when Paul Goldschmidt homers after he belted his 18th and 19th home runs in the series-opening victory over the Reds. That productive night moved him into a tie for second in the NL in home runs.
• Arizona second baseman Willie Bloomquist is hitting .571 in seven career at-bats against Leake.
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.