Detroit Tigers left-hander Drew Smyly had the AL's lowest ERA a month ago.
The rookie hasn't been able to keep up that pace.
Smyly gets the ball Sunday night against the NL Central-leading Cincinnati Reds as the Tigers go for their first back-to-back wins in an NL park in four years.
A second-round pick from the University of Arkansas two years ago, Smyly (2-2, 3.71 ERA) began his major league career by going 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA - the league's best at the time - through his first six starts.
Smyly, though, has allowed four runs in each of his last five starts, and has a 6.41 ERA during that stretch after lasting six innings in Tuesday's 4-2 home loss to Cleveland.
Despite the recent struggles, Smyly might like his chances when he takes the ball at Great American Ball Park. He is 2-0 with a 3.44 ERA in six road starts compared to 0-2 with a 4.05 ERA in five outings at Comerica Park.
After winning 3-2 on Saturday, the Tigers (27-32) will try to close out this series with their first back-to-back victories since a three-game sweep at Minnesota from May 25-27.
Detroit last won two straight on the road versus an NL team on June 21-22, 2008, against San Diego. The club had dropped 19 of 27 - including Friday's 6-5, 10-inning loss - in NL parks prior to Saturday.
The Reds (32-26), meanwhile, will try to avoid losing their fourth consecutive interleague series at home with Homer Bailey (4-4, 4.39) on the hill.
The right-hander is trying to rebound from an 8-4 loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday in which he gave up a season high-tying six runs in three innings. Bailey had won his previous three starts.
"He had trouble locating his fastball, and his secondary pitches weren't as good as they had been," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Bailey hasn't been good at home in interleague action, going 1-2 with a 7.30 ERA in five starts - though only one of those has come in the past three years. This will be the first time he faces Detroit.
Bailey has faced Price Fielder 17 times, with the Tigers first baseman recording six hits, including a homer and three doubles. Fielder has also walked six times.
Fielder went 2 for 4 with a homer and two RBIs Saturday and is batting .400 (24 for 60) with three homers and 14 RBIs while hitting safely in 15 of 16.
Reds first baseman Joey Votto will try to extend his career-best hitting streak to 16 after going 1 for 2 on Saturday. The 2010 NL MVP is batting .547 (29 for 53) with three homers and 10 RBIs during that run.
Votto is 4 for 7 with a homer, two doubles and three RBIs in this series.
Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera has one hit in eight at_bats in the last two games, but he's still hitting .343 off Reds pitching in 26 games.
The reigning AL batting champ has never faced Bailey.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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