The visiting Arizona Diamondbacks look to gain a split of their four-game series while the Cincinnati Reds hope to break even on their eight-game homestand when the two clubs meet in a Thursday matinee.

The Reds’ starter will be right-hander Tyler Mahle, the pitcher who has been the most often victimized by Cincinnati’s weak bullpen.

Mahle (2-5, 5.43 ERA) heads to the mound for his 13th start of the season. He has left three games this season in position to win, only to have the bullpen blow the lead.

In last Saturday’s 10-8 loss to the Washington Nationals, Mahle left the game with a 7-3 lead, but the Nationals scored three runs in the seventh inning, one in the eighth and three more in the ninth off the Reds bullpen.

In his last five outings, Mahle has four quality starts and a 4.34 ERA, lowering his season ERA by over a full run.

Mahle has been part of a very potent starting rotation for Cincinnati in the last three weeks. On Monday, Hunter Greene threw seven scoreless innings and struck out eight in the Reds’7-0 win. The next night, Graham Ashcraft threw six scoreless innings with four strikeouts in a 14-8 win. Neither rookie pitcher walked a batter in the 13 innings.

In those two games, Greene and Ashcraft became the first Reds starting pitchers to retire 30 consecutive batters since June 1979, when Tom Seaver and Paul Moskau retired 35 straight.

“It’s really special, I think we can all agree and enjoy watching it,” Reds manager David Bell said. “And the other thing too is very different pitchers. It’s gonna be fun watching these guys for a long time. They both know how much they have to keep improving and you know, every single time out, they want to keep getting better.”

In three career starts covering 15 innings against the Diamondbacks, Mahle is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA.

The Diamondbacks will counter with right-hander Zach Davies (2-3, 4.18), who is coming off his strongest outing of the season. He allowed just three hits and fanned six over 7 2/3 scoreless innings in a no-decision on Saturday in Pittsburgh.

Davies left with a 1-0 lead, but the Pirates won the game with two runs in the bottom of the ninth. Davies is making his 12th start of the season and sixth on the road. In five previous road starts, Davies is 1-2 with a 3.81 ERA while holding opponents to a .225 batting average.

In 16 career starts against the Reds, the 29-year-old is 3-5 with a 4.41 ERA.

The forearm strain of right-hander Humberto Castellanos has opened a spot in Arizona’s rotation. Manager Torey Lovullo continues to closely monitor organizational options for the job.

Tyler Gilbert auditioned Tuesday night, but the Reds jumped him for seven runs — six earned — on five hits and two walks over 1 2/3 innings as Cincinnati rolled to a 14-8 win.

“(It’s) fluid. We’ve got to throw all the names in the ring right now when we’re backed up like this,” Lovullo said. “We’ve got a lot of really good internal candidates, and we want somebody to step up. I think that’s the spirit of this game. I want everybody to earn everything, including that fifth spot.”

Castellanos suffered a forearm strain during his May 31 start against the Braves, and Lovullo said the pitcher would be out several weeks, with no specific timetable for a return.

–Field Level Media