- Indians rip Red Sox in Francona's return
- Cabrera's HR streak at 4 as Tigers rally
- Jays win 12-6, ruin debut of O's Gausman
- Pirates top Cubs for fourth straight win
- Angels' 4 HRs back Blanton's first win
By JEFF BARTL
(AP) -- Neither the Cincinnati Reds nor New York Mets have a particularly potent offense, though each team's bats have seemed to come alive lately.
Both coming off sweeps that ended recent struggles, the Reds and Mets look to continue their hot hitting in the opener of a three-game set Friday night at Citi Field.
Cincinnati (35-27) sits atop the NL Central largely due to a 3.57 ERA that ranks fifth in the NL, but its offense played a major role in a three-game sweep of Cleveland.
The Reds, who had lost five of seven entering the series, tied a season high for runs and set a season best with 17 hits in a 12-5 victory Thursday. They went 7 for 19 with runners in scoring position after entering the finale hitting .230 in such situations and outscored Cleveland 24-9 in the series.
"Earlier, everybody was complaining about us not hitting the ball," Brandon Phillips, who went 3 for 5 with a homer and four RBIs, told the team's official website. "It's basically a pitching and defense team, but we can always hit. Once we start getting key hits in key situations, I feel like nobody can really beat us. We're starting to come around."
Phillips is hitting .441 with three homers over his last eight games, while Joey Votto is 20 for 40 with four home runs and 14 RBIs in his last 11 after connecting for a three-run homer Thursday.
"The weather was certainly conducive for hitters these last three days," manager Dusty Baker said. "Hopefully, the weather stays hot and our bats get hotter."
Phillips is hitting .320 during a 17-game hitting streak against the Mets, who collected 40 hits in an impressive three-game sweep at Tampa Bay.
New York won 9-6 on Thursday and outscored the Rays 29-9 in the series. The Mets (35-29), who rank near the middle of the pack in the majors with a .259 team average, got a pair of homers from Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the finale.
David Wright boosted his average to .358 with three hits for New York, which entered the series having scored 23 runs combined while losing six of its previous seven.
"You've got to be able to forget what the last series was and go play," manager Terry Collins said. "Continue to grind it out."
The Mets will send Dillon Gee to the hill against the Reds, with whom they split a two-game set May 16-17.
Gee (4-4, 4.42 ERA) had another solid outing despite suffering a 4-2 loss to the Yankees on Saturday after giving up three runs in seven innings. He's 2-1 with a 2.88 ERA over his last five starts, pitching at least into the seventh in each.
The Mets, though, have dropped his last three outings and will look to end that streak in the right-hander's first career start against the Reds, who hope Bronson Arroyo can win for the first time in more than five weeks.
Arroyo (2-4, 3.79) didn't earn a decision in a 3-2 loss to Detroit on Saturday despite yielding two runs and five hits in seven innings. He hasn't won since beating Milwaukee on May 7 and is 0-3 with a 4.91 ERA over his last six starts.
The right-hander has been solid against the Mets in eight career starts, going 5-1 with a 3.15 ERA and 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA in four outings at Flushing.
Updated June 14, 2012