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Dodgers open weekend series with Reds

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- After an infusion of aces helped give the Dodgers a little bit of breathing room in the last 48 hours, the club looks to build some momentum with a four-game weekend series against the struggling Reds.

Cincinnati was above .500 as late as May 14 at 18-17, with as many runs scored (141) as allowed. But since then the Reds are 32-45 and have been outscored by 47 runs in those 77 games.

The Reds have lost three straight series, have lost six of their last eight games, and are 22-36 on the road this season.

These two teams will get used to each other soon enough, as seven of the Dodgers' next 12 games are against the Reds, with a return trip to Cincinnati coming Aug. 25-27.

The Reds will send three rookies to the mound in four games this weekend at Dodger Stadium, with a total of 55 major league starts to the career ledgers of all four scheduled Cincinnati series. The first of those three rookies is Keyvius Sampson, making his third major league start, and fourth major league appearance, in Thursday's opener.

Sampson, 24, was claimed off waivers from the Padres in January, and in time split equally this season between Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville had a 3.38 ERA in 16 games, including 15 starts with 74 strikeouts and 46 walks in 82⅔ innings.

Since joining the Reds, the right-hander has struck out 12 of 48 batters faced (25-percent strikeout rate) with just four walks and a 3.00 ERA.

Mat Latos gets the call for the Dodgers, making his third start for his new team.

He's facing one of his old teams, having started 81 games for the Reds from 2012-2014. Latos was 33-16 with a 3.31 ERA in Cincinnati, a 118 ERA+, with a pair of 14-win and 200-inning campaigns.

With just four innings in his last start, Latos snapped a string of six straight starts lasting at least six innings. But even though with a healthy knee he was pitching relatively deep into games in his final few weeks with the Marlins, Latos hasn't thrown more than 90 pitches in a start since June 18.

In other words, get ready for the Dodgers bullpen to get some use.

Latos and the bullpen will have to deal with the red menace, Joey Votto, who comes to town especially hot. In 25 games since the All-Star break the slugging first baseman is hitting .402/.570/.683 with five home runs, eight doubles and 31 walks.

He set a modern Reds franchise record (dating back to 1900) with 15 straight games reaching base at least twice, from July 10-28.

Votto's 88 walks are one behind Paul Goldschmidt for the National League lead. Joc Pederson is fourth with 71 walks, on pace for exactly 100, which would make him the first Dodger with 100 walks in a season since Gary Sheffield in 2000.

The Dodgers have won three straight home series against the Reds, winning seven of their last nine home games against Cincinnati dating back to 2012, and dating back to 2006 are 20-8 against the Reds at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers are 13-3-3 in home series this season, and at 39-19 are tied with Kansas City for the fourth-best home record in the majors.

Game info

Time: 7:10 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA, MLB Network