For a game in August, the D-backs' series finale with the Wild Card-leading Reds on Thursday is about as important as it gets.
A win would give Arizona a split of the four-game series and keep the club five games back of the second National League Wild Card spot. A loss, however, would put the D-backs seven games off the pace with a little more than a month remaining.
Needing a victory with a two-game swing in the standings on the line and their postseason aspirations in a precarious spot, the D-backs will turn to Trevor Cahill on Thursday at Great American Ballpark. Since finishing May with a stellar 2.88 ERA in 11 starts, the right-hander hasn't been the same.
In six outings in June before being sidelined for a month on the disabled list, Cahill went 0-5 with a 9.85 ERA, allowing five or more runs four times. Then in his first start back last weekend against the Pirates, Cahill showed glimpses of his old self from earlier in the year but surrendered four runs on seven hits over five innings.
Despite the subpar statistics from his pitcher's outing, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson thought Cahill performed better than the results indicated.
"I don't think he threw the ball that bad," Gibson said. "I know you guys thought, 'oh, he was just like he was before.' I think it's way too early to say that. It's not easy coming back and doing that."
The D-backs will certainly need Cahill to turn his fortunes around Wednesday with the Reds sending Mat Latos to the mound. The 25-year-old has already beaten Arizona once this year, holding the Snakes to just one run on six hits over 7 2/3 innings on June 23 in a 4-2 Cincinnati victory.
In Latos' last start, the right-hander took a hard-luck loss to the Brewers, giving up two runs in seven innings as the Reds were shut out.
"I wasn't able to get strike one, and strike one is the most important pitch in this game," Latos said afterward. "Fall behind, they basically get to hit whatever they want to hit. ... That's just the way the game goes. Two runs will beat you on any given day."
Reds: Cueto begins light throwing
Johnny Cueto played catch on the field Wednesday and made 40 throws from distances of 60-75 feet. He was originally slated to have an MRI on Friday before he could begin a throwing program, but the Reds ultimately decided against that plan.
"I feel good," Cueto said. "I didn't feel bad [before]. I didn't feel nothing. I wanted to throw. They said OK."
The outing marked the first time the Reds' ace has thrown since straining his right lat muscle for the third time this season during a June 28 start at Texas. Cueto had been asking to throw for a little while, but because he had repeatedly suffered the same injury, the club opted to wait. But when head trainer Paul Lessard, medical director Tim Kremchek and general manager Walt Jocketty met on Tuesday night and Wednesday, they gave him the green light.
"Because he has gotten good strength, why not try and start throwing?" Lessard said. "We can use the throwing program as a strengthening tool as well.
D-backs: Goldschmidt humble about 100-RBI mark
After hitting a grand slam Tuesday night that gave him 100 RBIs on the season, Paul Goldschmidt didn't realize he had reached the century mark for the first time in his career until teammates let him know.
"They said congrats on 100 so I knew it was either that or at least 100," Goldschmidt said. "I don't know. ... My goal, like we've talked about all year, is just showing up and trying to have good at-bats, work hard, prepare. You know the stuff I can control. You know RBIs are out of your control. I mean, out there I could hit the same pitch, same swing and it's a line drive to shortstop, double play."
• The Reds are 9-4 in their first 13 games of a stretch in which they are scheduled to play 20 straight days.
• The D-backs lead the Major Leagues with 27 one-run wins.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.