Reds keep rolling, pad lead over Cards in NL Central

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The Cardinals couldn’t have picked a worse time to go on a season-high five-game losing streak. While they’ve been slipping recently, the Reds have enjoyed their best stretch of the year. With a 3-1 victory over the Dodgers on Friday night, the Reds extended their winning streak to season-high seven games.

Brandon Phillips drove in three runs with a pair of RBI singles while Homer Bailey did the rest, tossing seven innings of one-run ball. Symbolic of the team’s meteoric rise to postseason frontrunner, Friday’s win snapped a 12-game losing streak at Chavez Ravine dating back to July 28, 2005.

The Reds are now a season-high 20 games over .500 at 71-51 and enter play Saturday a season-high 4 1/2 games in front of the Cardinals in the National League Central.

Fresh off his seven-game suspension, Johnny Cueto will return to the mound to face Chad Billingsley later tonight. Meanwhile, Chris Carpenter will hope to end the skid for the Cardinals when he squares off against the slumping Tim Lincecum.