The Cincinnati Reds will look to break a historic nine-game losing streak when they host the St. Louis Cardinals to begin a three-game series on Friday.

The Reds are the only National League team ever to lose nine consecutive games in which they registered seven hits or fewer in each contest. They’ve been outscored 59-18 during the span and are coming off being dominated by the San Diego Padres, who swept three games in which the Reds mustered just three total runs.

Cincinnati managed only five hits in a 6-0 loss to the Padres on Wednesday, marking the first time the Reds were blanked this season. Vladimir Gutierrez (0-3) gave up three runs on just two hits to go along with four walks and two strikeouts in the loss.

“We’re going through a tough period,” Cincinnati manager David Bell said. “We’ve got to find a way to score more runs. When a slump like this happens at the start of a season, it looks worse. All teams go through times like this.”

The Reds, who had not lost nine straight since June 9-18, 2017, were off on Thursday. The Cardinals, meanwhile, took a 5-0 road loss to the Miami Marlins on Thursday after winning the first two games of the series by a combined score of 7-1.

The Cardinals got just five hits in the series finale, with third baseman Nolan Arenado going 3-for-4 a day after his two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning lifted St. Louis to a 2-0 win.

“We’re seeing an amazing player right now,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said of Arenado. “Defensively, offensively, what he’s doing is impressive. You strike out your first at-bat (on Wednesday), your second at-bat, your third at-bat and you’re still mentally locked in to help the team.”

In Friday’s series opener, the Reds will turn to rookie right-hander Hunter Greene (1-1, 4.35 ERA), who has 13 strikeouts against two walks and a 4.35 ERA. He has given up three homers in 10 1/3 innings.

Greene, who has a fastball that routinely surpasses 100 mph, is being counted on along with fellow rookie Nick Lodolo to fill the void left by the departed Sonny Gray and Wade Miley.

He took to Twitter to urge Reds fans to make their presence felt this weekend.

“Calling all Reds fans to come out to this home series,” tweeted Greene, who will face the Cardinals for the first time. “I want to see a sea of Red … We got a lot of games left and we need your support, it means more than you know!”

The Cardinals will counter with left-hander Steven Matz (1-1, 7.26 ERA), who has allowed seven runs while striking out 11 in 8 2/3 innings over two starts.

Matz is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 13 1/3 career innings against the Reds, a team he hasn’t faced since he was pitching for the New York Mets in 2015.

The Reds are ravaged by injuries. Catcher Tyler Stephenson was placed on the seven-day concussion list after colliding with San Diego’s Luke Voit at home plate on Tuesday. Stephenson is the 13th Red to be placed on the injured list, a tally that includes Jonathan India, Mike Moustakas and Tyler Naquin.

–Field Level Media