A sweep of a first-place team gave the Cincinnati Reds a much-needed boost, as might a better performance from Bronson Arroyo on Friday night.
Arroyo looks to bounce back from a miserable outing by taking advantage of a matchup with a San Diego Padres lineup which is struggling and short-handed.
Cincinnati (63-51) had dropped seven of nine before sweeping two games from AL West-leading Oakland this week.
Jay Bruce homered in both wins and drove in three runs in Wednesday's 6-5 victory. The pair of wins kept Cincinnati 4 1/2 games in front of Arizona for the NL's final wild card spot.
"I think that we need every win from this point out," Bruce told the team's website. "And I think that's something we expect out of ourselves. (The A's) have been playing good baseball all year, and we played a little better these two days. I think that's hopefully a sign of what's to come."
The Reds are also hoping Arroyo (9-9, 3.62 ERA) can get back on track after giving up seven runs over 3 2-3 innings in a 13-3 loss to St. Louis on Friday. The right-hander has lost back-to-back starts, giving up 16 hits in nine innings, since throwing a shutout at San Francisco on July 22.
Arroyo is 2-0 with a 2.42 ERA in his last four starts versus San Diego (52-62), which has hit .137 with runners in scoring position over its last nine games while averaging 2.8 runs.
The Padres were held to four runs in two games against Baltimore this week, suffering a sweep in their first series following the 50-game suspension to NL steals leader Everth Cabrera. Additionally, team RBI leader Carlos Quentin has missed the past six games because of a right knee injury and might be heading to the disabled list.
Jedd Gyorko's three-run shot in the sixth Wednesday was the Padres' first homer in four games, but they lost 10-3 as the bullpen gave up seven runs over the final two innings.
Andrew Cashner (8-5, 3.80), though, has been given ample support lately and hopes that trend continues in his first start against the Reds. The right-hander has won all three of his outings since the All-Star break, posting a 3.79 ERA, while getting a combined 20 runs of support. He received 10 in his previous six games.
Cashner's best outing during his win streak came Friday, giving up two runs without a walk over seven innings in a 7-2 victory over the New York Yankees.
"I thought he was very effective," manager Bud Black said. "I was proud that he went seven innings and gave up two runs to the Yankees."
The Reds could get reliever Jonathan Broxton and catcher Ryan Hanigan back on the field this weekend. Broxton (elbow) was activated from the disabled list Wednesday and Hanigan (wrist) came off the DL on Friday.
The Padres won two of three against the Reds from July 29-31 but have lost six of eight in Cincinnati. San Diego is 6-3 in road games since losing 10 in a row.
Bruce is 5 for 11 versus the Padres this year and has hit .346 with five homers and 16 RBIs in his last 14 games against them.