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Reds face Phillies with eye on returning to .500

The Reds are currently going the right way during an up-and-down first two months of the season.

They're looking to get back to .500 with their fourth win in five games as they face the Phillies on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia. The Phillies, meanwhile, are trying to salvage the series and some wins in what has been a forgettable month of May.

The Reds were 5-2 winners in the series opener Friday night. The win pushed the club to 23-24, and they have not been .500 since May 16 when they were 19-19.

Bronson Arroyo will be on the mound for Cincinnati, looking to shake off a string of back-to-back tough outings. Arroyo, 40, has combined to surrender 11 earned runs and 17 hits in his last two starts against the Cubs and Rockies. He didn't make it out of the sixth inning in either outing.

In his last start, Arroyo gave up four home runs to the Cubs, who tagged the righty for six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.

"He's a big part of the culture here in our clubhouse," Reds manager Bryan Price told MLB.com of Arroyo after his last start. "It's a challenging game. It's unforgiving. It doesn't even respect the best of people or the best of pitchers and players. I just have a lot of optimism with him because he knows how to pitch and he's been a winner."

The veteran will be faced by 26-year-old Jerad Eickhoff. The Phillies are just 1-8 in games started by Eickhoff (0-5, 4.70 ERA) this season, and the right-hander has not received much run support in either of his last two starts.

In his last start, Eickhoff gave up four runs on nine hits against Colorado, though the majority of damage against him came from an RBI blooper and a seeing-eye single.

"I executed pitches. I was doing my job," Eickhoff told MLB.com. "It was out of my control. I thought I was in a good spot, but they did a good job putting enough on it to put it where the guys weren't."

Eickhoff has gone six innings in both of his last two appearances, allowing two earned runs to the Rangers and four against the Rockies. He has 12 strikeouts in those 12 innings, but the Phillies have scored just one run in both games.

Scoring runs has been a major problem for the Phillies in the last two weeks. Philadelphia has not scored more than three runs in a game since beating the Pirates 7-2 on May 19. In their last 14 contests, the Phillies have averaged 2.9 runs per game.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said there was a team meeting after Friday's loss as his squad looks for answers.

"We need to step it up. We're better than this. I know we're better than this," he said. "We've just got to start playing as aggressive as we can and take it to the other team. Be aggressive at the plate and pound the strike zone."

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