Home runs have plagued both Dan Haren and Tony Cingrani during their recent struggles. Given Haren's issues with the long ball in recent matchups with the Cincinnati Reds, the Los Angeles Dodgers might not like his chances to sort things out in Monday night's series opener.
Haren (5-4, 3.50 ERA) is 0-3 with a 4.88 ERA in his last four outings, allowing seven home runs in 24 innings. The right-hander had given up only three homers in his first eight starts altogether.
He was taken deep twice in his last start as he conceded four runs over six innings of a 4-1 loss to the White Sox on Tuesday. One was a two-run shot by Jose Abreu in the game's third at-bat, marking the second time in three games he was charged with a two-run first inning.
Haren has also struggled to limit home runs by the Reds, allowing 11 in eight matchups - including seven starts - spanning 43 2-3 innings. He is 3-3 with a 4.95 ERA against them.
Brandon Phillips, Ryan Ludwick and Zack Cosart each have two homers off Haren, with Cosart's pair coming in only five at-bats.
Cingrani (2-6, 4.09) owns a 5.16 ERA while losing all four starts since returning from shoulder tendinitis. He's given up seven homers in 22 2-3 innings in those outings after previously posting a 3.34 ERA in his first six starts and limiting opponents to three home runs in 32 1-3 innings.
The left-hander showed signs of progress Wednesday against San Francisco, however, allowing two hits in the first five innings. He surrendered two home runs in the sixth - accounting for all three runs against him - and was pulled after 5 2-3 innings.
"I had my old mechanics back," Cingrani told the team's official website. "I felt pretty good. My arm felt pretty strong. There were a couple of positives that came out of it."
Cingrani matched his career high with 11 strikeouts in his only previous start against the Dodgers on July 28, yielding one hit and a walk over seven innings. He didn't receive a decision in a 1-0 loss.
The Dodgers (33-31), whose 20-12 road record is tied with San Francisco for the best in the NL, took two of three from Cincinnati at home from May 26-28. Should Haren continue to struggle, their bullpen should be well-rested behind him. Clayton Kershaw was credited with a complete game in Sunday's 6-1 victory at Colorado, which was called after 5 1/2 innings due to rain.
Los Angeles' relievers had thrown a combined 11 2-3 innings over the previous four games.
"It was one of those wins you kind of like because you don't have to end up using your pen," manager Don Mattingly said.
Yasiel Puig and Dee Gordon are both day to day after sitting out with hip injuries, though Mattingly told the team's website he doesn't believe either will be sidelined for an extended period. Puig has three home runs in his last seven games versus Cincinnati.
The Reds (29-32) are looking to win a fourth straight home meeting with the Dodgers for the first time since Aug. 9, 1997-April 4, 1998.
Jay Bruce has five homers and eight RBIs over his last 10 games against Los Angeles.