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MIN@SF: Vogelsong strikes out seven over 6 2/3 frames

With an offense that has languished for much of the season so far, the Reds have shown life at the plate over the last four games, averaging five runs over the final three contests of their recent road trip -- all wins over the D-backs -- and posting a four-run first inning en route to an 8-3 win over the Giants at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday night.

Having battled injuries to key players such as first basemen Joey Votto, right fielder Jay Bruce and starter Mat Latos, Cincinnati now has Bruce back in the lineup and both Votto and Latos could be activated before the current 10-game homestand is over. The time for the Reds, currently 27-29 and 6 1/2 games behind Milwaukee in the National League Central, is now to put together a solid stretch of baseball as they near full strength.

"It's really important for us, having gotten off to a slow start, to start playing consistently well," Reds manager Bryan Price said Tuesday. "We still have over 100 games to play, but that being said, we don't know what the other teams in the division are going to do. ... What we have to do is play good, consistent baseball, and win. It really comes down to home or road, we've just got to start collecting W's and get ourselves closer to the top."

A good gauge for Cincinnati at this point of the season will be its performance in the rest of its series against the Giants, owners of the best record in the Majors at 37-21.

"These guys have a very good record," Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco said Tuesday. "They're playing well on both sides of the ball, hitting and pitching. We need to go out there and try to build some momentum, try to get a good streak going."

Cincinnati will try to keep building that momentum behind left-hander Tony Cingrani, who is slated to take the mound for the Reds against right-hander Ryan Vogelsong on Wednesday. In two career starts against San Francisco, Cingrani is 1-0 with a 2.92 ERA (four earned runs in 12 1/3 innings). He's coming off an outing in Arizona in which he allowed two earned runs on seven hits over five innings in a loss to the D-backs last Thursday.

Vogelsong has made eight career starts against Cincinnati, posting a record of 1-3 with a 5.84 ERA. The veteran is 3-1 with a 1.94 ERA over his last seven starts, with the Giants winning in six of them, but overall he's struggled on the road, posting a 5.40 ERA away from AT&T Park as opposed to a 2.15 ERA at home.

Though Vogelsong was roughed up in his last start, giving up four runs in 6 1/3 innings against the Cardinals on Thursday, he had allowed only four earned runs over his previous 19 2/3 innings.

"I feel like when I'm out there I can throw anything at any count," Vogelsong said after his May 24 win over the Twins, "and that's a great feeling. It's not always like that. The last couple of games it's felt like that."

Giants: Hoping for good weather
The forecast in Cincinnati on Wednesday night calls for a 90 percent chance of precipitation, meaning Giants manager Bruce Bochy may have a decision to make if the club's contest against the Reds at Great American Ball Park is postponed and played as part of a doubleheader Thursday.

Teams are allowed to add a 26th player to the active roster in such an event, but Bochy said Tuesday he hopes it doesn't come to that.

"I don't want to think about it because I'm still optimistic we're going to get the game in," he said. "But [Wednesday], we'll probably have to see where we are."

Reds: Votto closer, scheduled batting practice canceled due to rain
Votto, who has been on the disabled list since May 21 with a strained left quadriceps, was scheduled to take his first on-field batting-practice session with the team since sustaining the injury before the Reds' series opener with the Giants on Tuesday, but it was canceled due to rain.

Votto said he is feeling good, however, and is looking forward to getting back to his daily pregame routine, including taking ground balls on the field and running the bases.

"I feel good, a lot better than a few weeks ago," Votto said. "I'm looking forward to getting out there and being a part of the routine. It's been awhile since I've been able to do the things that are asked of us on a daily basis. I'm excited."

Once he displays he can hit, run and field without problems, Votto is expected to begin a rehab assignment that will likely be for at least two games.

Worth noting
• Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips and Bruce have both enjoyed success against Vogelsong in their careers. Including postseason games, Phillips is 8-for-17 (.471) with a double against the right-hander, and Bruce is 5-for-14 (.357) with a home run and four RBIs.

• Forty of the Giants' 64 home runs this season have come on the road. San Francisco's 64 homers are second in the NL behind the Rockies (73).

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