LOS ANGELES — The Cincinnati Reds kept rolling along during Johnny Cueto's seven-game suspension thanks to a pair of outstanding starts by Homer Bailey.
The right-hander pitched seven solid innings Friday night and the NL Central leaders beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 for their season-high seventh victory in a row.
"It wasn't any extra stress," Bailey said. "You start remembering how every single day when you showed up to do rehab, you wish you were playing. And that definitely comes out. I knew I was throwing the ball well before I got hurt, so I just tried to carry it over into the games."
Bailey (3-2) allowed a run and four hits, struck out six and walked two in his second outing since coming off the disabled list. Last Sunday, he tossed six innings of three-hit ball in a 2-0 win against Florida after missing almost three months because of inflammation in his shoulder.
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"We needed that, and we needed it badly," Manager Dusty Baker said. "We left him down in the minors (on his rehab stint) a little bit longer than he wanted us to and we wanted to. But we wanted him to be ready big-time when he got back here. More importantly, he wanted it. And when a pitcher wants it, that gives everybody a lot more confidence."
Cueto finished serving the seven-game ban he received for his actions during the Reds' bench-clearing brawl with St. Louis on Aug. 10, when he was ejected for kicking several Cardinals players while pinned against the home plate screen. He was scheduled to start Saturday night.
Arthur Rhodes pitched a perfect eighth and Francisco Cordero a scoreless ninth for his 33rd save in 39 attempts.
The win increased Cincinnati's division lead to 4½ games entering Saturday's action — the Reds' largest margin since May 18, 2002. They are seeking their first division title since 1995.
Cincinnati (71-51) has won eight straight on the road and is a season-high 20 games over .500.
Dodgers rookie Carlos Monasterios (3-4) was charged with three runs and eight hits over 41⁄3 innings and had six strikeouts. Two of the runs were unearned, the result of his throwing error in the fourth.