If the Chicago Cubs don’t start winning games against the also-rans of the National League, they might wind up joining them.
Deadlocked with San Francisco for the NL wild-card lead, the Cubs will try to end their recent slide as they continue a four-game set with the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field.
After losing the final two games of their weekend series to the previously lifeless New York Mets over the weekend, the Cubs bounced back with a 12-5 victory in Monday’s series opener.
But Chicago suffered another costly loss Tuesday, falling 8-3 to the Reds while the Giants beat San Diego to forge a tie atop the wild-card standings.
“We’ve got to put this behind us and come out smoking (Wednesday),” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “We’ve got five to go. We’ve got to put it behind us.”
Chicago is also just a half-game ahead of surging Houston, which beat St. Louis 2-1.
Rusch has struggled against the Reds during his career, going 1-3 with a 5.20 ERA in 10 appearances, including seven starts.
Adam Dunn led Cincinnati on Tuesday, hitting his 44th homer and reaching 100 RBIs for the first time in his career.
“This is kind of our playoffs,” said Dunn. “Guys are doing everything to win.”
Dunn is hitting .333 (5-for-15) with three homers and nine RBIs in his career against Rusch.