Lohse looks to outduel Lieber in opener

Reds visit Phillies in Wild Card battle

After a 4-6 homestand, the Reds hit the road for six games against the Phillies and Cardinals.

First up on Friday is the first of three games against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Philadelphia has won nine of its last 13 and is three games behind Cincinnati in the National League Wild Card hunt.

"They've got one of the more talented teams in baseball," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "So we're going to have to play well there. They might be playing their best baseball right now. They were playing well when we saw them earlier in the year."

Kyle Lohse will make his second start for Cincinnati, while right-hander Jon Lieber will pitch for Philadelphia.

Lohse did not figure in Sunday's 6-4 loss to Atlanta, but earned another start with a sharp five-plus inning outing. The right-hander allowed two earned runs and four hits without a walk and struck out seven. Following Andruw Jones' two-run homer in the first inning of the game, Lohse retired 13 of the next 14 batters.

Because he had worked in the bullpen most of the season with the Twins, Lohse was limited to a pitch count of 85. He will likely be stretched out a little longer on Friday.

On May 12 at Great American Ball Park, Lieber was perfect for 6 2/3 innings before ultimately settling for a two-hitter over 8 2/3 innings in a 2-0 win over the Reds.

Second-place Cincinnati trails the the first-place Cardinals by 3 1/2 games in the NL Central.

Pitching matchup
CIN: RHP Kyle Lohse (0-0, 4.50 ERA)
This will be his second game against the Phillies and his first at Citizens Bank Park. He allowed two earned runs and five hits over six innings at Veterans Stadium on June 21, 2002, with the Twins.

PHI: RHP Jon Lieber (4-9, 5.71 ERA)
He's 1-4 with a 4.89 ERA on the road, including four consecutive losses.

Player to watch
Reds left fielder Adam Dunn is 9-for-20 (.450) with two homers and six RBIs against Lieber over his career. Both homers came over the last four at-bats.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN Ohio

On radio
• WLW 700-AM

Up next
• Saturday: Reds (RHP Elizardo Ramirez, 4-8, 4.93) at Phillies (RHP Scott Mathieson, 1-3, 5.40), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Reds (LHP Eric Milton, 8-7, 5.01) at Phillies (RHP Brett Myers, 8-5, 3.85), 1:35 p.m. ET
• Monday: Off-day

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.