Sitting eight games back in the National League Central, the Cincinnati Reds understand the importance of a six-game road trip against two of the top three teams in the division. However, the Reds hope to buck recent history in Milwaukee starting Friday when they open a three-game set against the Brewers. Cincinnati, which will face Pittsburgh early next week, won three of four at home from May 1-4 in its first series with division-leading Milwaukee, but has dropped nine of 13 at Miller Park.

Making matters even more difficult for the Reds is the uncertain status of three-time All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips, who left Thursday's 4-1 home win over the Los Angeles Dodgers with a finger injury. The Brewers are in the middle of a stretch in which they play 15 of 18 on the road, but get to return home for the weekend after downing the New York Mets in 13 innings Thursday for their fourth win in five games. Jonathan Lucroy, who turns 28 on Friday, has been red-hot in June, batting .405 with three homers and eight RBIs.

TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Cincinnati), FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds RH Homer Bailey (7-3, 4.60 ERA) vs. Brewers RH Matt Garza (4-4, 4.42)

Bailey notched his fourth victory in as many outings, matching a season high by working eight innings in a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday. The No. 7 overall pick of the 2004 draft allowed one run on six hits while striking out seven to improve to 7-0 in eight turns when he yields three runs or fewer. Bailey has struggled in 17 career starts against Milwaukee, going 4-7 with a 5.21 ERA - his second-highest ERA against a NL opponent.

After posting a 5.00 ERA in April and 4.65 in May, Garza improved to 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA in two June outings following Saturday's 9-3 triumph over Pittsburgh. The 30-year-old California native got the win despite issuing a season-high five walks and matching a season low with one strikeout, allowing three runs on six hits over six frames. Garza gave up a career-high nine runs to the Reds last June as a member of the Chicago Cubs, falling to 1-3 with a 6.34 ERA in six all-time starts against Cincinnati.

WALK-OFFS

1. Phillips was 6-for-12 while Lucroy went 6-for-14 in the teams' first series.

2. Garza gave up 13 earned runs in two starts against Cincinnati last season, tied for the most he has yielded to an opponent in a single season since 2010.

3. Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks, who is 2-for-15 in part-time duty in June, is 14-for-27 with two homers and eight RBIs all-time against Bailey.

PREDICTION: Brewers 4, Reds 3