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MIA@ARI: D-backs walk off on Goldschmidt's homer

The D-backs will look to break out of their offensive funk on Friday against the Reds in the opener of a three-game series at Chase Field.

While Arizona has won its past two games despite scoring only three runs in each triumph over the Marlins at home, the club is 3-5 in its past eight games and has scored more than three runs just once during that stretch.

Paul Goldschmidt lifted the D-backs with a walk-off homer to beat Miami on Tuesday, and Cody Ross provided all of the offense on Wednesday with a pinch-hit three-run shot in the eighth.

"Our pitching has done great keeping us in games, even though we've had some losses lately and haven't scored many runs," Goldschmidt said. "They've done a good job keeping it close and giving us an opportunity to score at the end."

After a day off on Thursday, Wade Miley is scheduled to take the mound for the D-backs. Miley has been inconsistent this season, as he is 4-6 with a 4.64 ERA in 14 starts.

The Reds will counter with Johnny Cueto, who will make his second start since coming off the disabled list on Sunday. In that outing, the right-hander showed no ill-effects from a strained right lat muscle and fired five innings of one-run ball to beat the Brewers.

Cueto will look to stay unbeaten as the Reds kick off an eight-game road trip in which they will play exclusively against teams in either first or second place of their respective divisions. After three games against the National League West-leading D-backs and an off-day on Monday, Cincinnati will play two games versus the American West-leading Athletics and three against the Rangers.

"It's a big road trip. We have to really push these next few days -- today and the next three -- before the off-day [Monday]," Reds manager Dusty Baker said before his club's 5-3 loss in Thursday's series finale against the Pirates. "Everybody we're playing is either in first place or second place -- Arizona, Oakland and Texas."

The tough competition will also give the Reds a chance to buck their season-long trend of struggling against superior opponents. Though Cincinnati is just 11-18 against teams above .500 -- and 33-12 against everyone else -- Baker isn't concerned about his team's play against stronger competition.

"People are always looking for something negative. I deal on the positive. You can find the negative in anything," Baker said. "What if we were losing to the bad teams and beating the good teams? I'd really be negative. I think we're doing pretty good to not be at full force. We're not doing great, but our guys are doing better than a lot of teams."

Reds: Baker has history with Gibson
The last time the Reds saw the D-backs was in Spring Training, when Baker got into a heated exchange with Arizona skipper Kirk Gibson on March 4. The disagreement was about using a designated hitter or letting the pitchers hit.

Baker wanted to use Shin-Soo Choo as a DH. Gibson wanted to play under standard NL rules in which the pitcher hits.

After the two managers exchanged lineup cards at home plate and got into a testy discussion, Baker refused to shake Gibson's hand.

"We didn't have a very pleasant encounter at home plate." Baker said. "That's how it goes. It's over."

"It was a good locker room talk. Read between the lines," Gibson said.

Coincidentally, Cueto was the Reds' starter in that game.

D-backs: Montero swinging hot bat
Miguel Montero has improved his hitting in June after struggling to find his stroke through the first two months of the season.

Gibson wanted to give Montero a day off Wednesday afternoon following Tuesday's night game, but with the catcher swinging a hot bat this month and an off-day on Thursday, Montero will rest later.

"Obviously I'm starting to feel better at the plate, and I really have to take advantage of that," Montero said. "I never want a day off, period, but now I'm really asking him not to give me one, because I feel better at the plate and I just want to continue that. If I get a day off, I might go backwards a little bit."

Montero's batting average dipped to .180 on May 19, but he's since raised it to .222.

"I'm feeling better and better and better -- and hopefully it stays there," he said.

Worth noting
• D-backs utility man Martin Prado is 5-for-12 (.417) in his career against Cueto, with one double, one home run and five RBIs.

• Cueto is 5-0 with a 1.66 ERA in six career starts against the D-backs, but he's never pitched at Chase Field. Comments