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PIT@CIN: Leake strikes out five over 5 2/3 for win

Wednesday's finale of a four-game series against the Reds likely can't come soon enough for the Giants. Although San Francisco beat Cincinnati, 5-3, in Game 2 of a doubleheader Tuesday night, the Reds have enjoyed most of the success when the teams have taken the field this season.

Cincinnati enters Wednesday's matchup at AT&T Park with a 5-1 record against the defending World Series champions in 2013, outscoring the Giants, 37-11, along the way. Through the first three games of the current series, which included Tuesday's double-dip because of a July 4 rainout in Cincinnati, the Reds have scored 25 runs to the Giants' eight.

Right-hander Chad Gaudin will take the mound in the finale for his eighth start since leaving the bullpen to replace the injured Ryan Vogelsong with the hopes of stifling a Cincinnati offense that has outscored opponents, 35-18, since the All-Star break.

Gaudin is undefeated (4-0) as a starter this season, logging a 2.23 ERA and striking out 35 batters in 40 1/3 innings. He enters Wednesday coming off his strongest outing, in which he tossed seven scoreless innings and gave up just three hits while striking out eight D-backs on Friday.

Although his place in the rotation isn't guaranteed, as Vogelson could return in mid-August, Gaudin has made a strong case for remaining there.

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," manager Bruce Bochy said of Gaudin's future role. "But he has been so consistent, it would be hard to take him out."

Opposing Gaudin, Reds starter Mike Leake seeks his third straight win and 10th overall this season. Leake has yet to see the Giants in 2013, as he was scheduled to face them in the game that was rained out.

Although Leake wasn't as sharp as he'd like to be in his first start of the second half on Friday against the Pirates, he surrendered just three hits before getting tagged for a trio of solo homers in the sixth inning.

"Leake was masterful until either the heat or a monkey jumped on his back and he started getting the ball up," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

Reds: Mesoraco comes back strong after break
With fellow catcher Ryan Hanigan on the disabled list, Devin Mesoraco has played a big role in the Reds' success coming out of the All-Star break.

In his last six games, including four starts, Mesoraco has gone 9-for-19 (.474) with two homers and six RBIs. He delivered a three-run shot in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader after also homering and scoring two runs in the series opener on Monday.

Mesoraco was not in the lineup to start the second game on Tuesday, but he came on for Corky Miller in the seventh and struck out twice. Despite that, after dealing with back spasms and scuffling before the break, Mesoraco finds himself in a groove to start the second half.

"I feel good," he said. "Coming off the All-Star break, with those three days off, you're able to physically get better [and] mentally take a little break. I came back, and I think for me it's just being able to go up there and relax and be in a good position to hit. I've felt good with my swing here lately, and it's just going out there and I think it's starting to show."

Hanigan, who has been battling an injured left wrist, is expected to come off the DL on Thursday to give the Reds two healthy catchers.

Giants: Arias to begin rehab assignment Wednesday
The Giants have been without Joaquin Arias since July 7, but the 28-year-old infielder will take a major step towards his return on Wednesday, when he begins a rehab assignment with Triple-A Fresno.

Arias underwent an appendectomy on July 8, and will take the field for the first time on Wednesday two weeks and two days following surgery. Typically, a player will return from such a procedure in two or three weeks, putting Arias on schedule.

For the last month, Arias has also been dealing with a strained left hamstring that forced him from a June 24 game against the Dodgers. On the season, he's batting .282 with 10 RBIs in 110 at-bats.

Worth noting
• With the split on Tuesday, the Giants are 17-33 against non-NL West opponents, as their next 32 games will be against teams outside the division.

• The Reds have won four of six since the All-Star break.

• Wednesday marks the last meeting of the season between San Francisco and Cincinnati. The Giants have three more games at home before heading out on the road, while the Reds will continue their West Coast swing against the Dodgers.

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