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MIL@CIN: Arroyo fans six over seven-plus innings

Following their first off-day in almost three weeks, the Reds will look to get rolling against the Rockies on Friday as they chase the Cardinals in the National League Central.

After avoiding a sweep with a 10-0 win against St. Louis on Wednesday, Cincinnati enters the weekend series at Coors Field trailing the Cardinals by 3 1/2 games in the tightest division race in baseball. No team is within five games of the Reds for the second NL Wild Card spot after Wednesday.

Since taking three of four from the D-backs Aug. 19-22, Cincinnati has dropped four of its last six games. On Friday, manager Dusty Baker will turn to right-hander Bronson Arroyo, who has made good things happen for the Reds of late.

Arroyo earned the win in each of has last four starts, going seven innings in three of them. He's given up three runs and seven hits in consecutive starts, most recently on Saturday against the Brewers.

Even when things have gone wrong for Arroyo, like when he gave up two runs in the second inning against the Crew, he's been able to recover and keep Cincinnati within striking distance.

"You know Bronson can do that sometimes and settle down," Baker said. "The next thing you know, you're in the seventh."

For the Rockies, who face double-digit deficits in the NL West and Wild Card races, it was undecided until Friday morning who would start. Although it was to be Jeff Manship's turn in the rotation, manager Walt Weiss said he planned to skip Manship's start, with Tyler Chatwood, who made a rehab start Tuesday, likely ready to rejoin the rotation this weekend.

Jorge De La Rosa instead will take the ball Friday before Juan Nicasio on Saturday.

"They'd be on regular rest if we went that route," Weiss said. "Depending on [Chatwood], if everything checks out all right, that's the way we're looking to go."

Reds: Phillips provides production in two-hole
As Baker searched for production out of the No. 2 spot in his lineup, he turned Wednesday to the player who was originally supposed to hit there all along.

Second baseman Brandon Phillips opened the season in the two-hole for Cincinnati, but after Ryan Ludwick's shoulder injury on Opening Day, he moved to the cleanup spot. But with the two-hole producing just a .226 average (14th in the National League) and .273 on-base percentage (last in the Majors) entering Wednesday, Baker went back to Phillips, who responded by going 2-for-5 with two runs scored.

Phillips' replacement at cleanup hitter, Jay Bruce, went 2-for-4 with five RBIs.

"That was my original lineup from the beginning -- Brandon batting second -- trying to put more guys on base in front of Joey [Votto] and Jay," Baker said.

Rockies: Fowler continues to nurse injured left knee
Dexter Fowler sat out his second straight game Wednesday with a knee injury, and Weiss indicated the 27-year-old outfielder likely won't be ready when the team opens its series against the Reds.

"He was still limping around [Tuesday] pretty good, so I would expect it's going to be a few more days," Weiss said Wednesday.

Weiss, who was waiting on the results of Fowler's MRI exam as of Wednesday afternoon, said Fowler injured his lateral collateral ligament (LCL) on Monday, when he tried stealing second base in the first inning of a 6-1 win against San Francisco. If not for the soon-to-be-expanded rosters in September, Weiss said he would have considered a trip to the disabled list for Fowler, who is batting .263 with 12 homers and 42 RBIs this season.

• Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez took batting practice Tuesday for the first time since hitting the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right middle finger on Aug. 7.

"He'll probably take BP for the rest of the week," Weiss said. "And then we might make a decision on him going out [for a rehab assignment] sometime around this weekend."

Worth Noting
• This weekend marks the second and final series between the Reds and Rockies this season, as Colorado won two of three in Cincinnati in early June.

• The Rockies have won four straight home series since losing three of four to the Marlins from July 22-25.

• The Reds are 34-36 away from home this season and will look for their first road series win in the last three tries this weekend.

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