Cincinnati (55-70) at Chicago (76-48)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 22° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Tue Aug 19, 2008
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The Chicago Cubs have the best home record in the NL. Rich Harden, however, is still searching for his first victory at Wrigley Field.

The NL Central-leading Cubs look to help him change that on Tuesday night when they open a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds.

After winning 44 games last season at home, the Cubs (76-48) are 45-17 there this year to help stake them to the NL’s best record.

This season at Wrigley Field, the Cubs are dominating opponents by hitting .301 while scoring 374 runs to lead the majors in both categories. Chicago also has dropped only three home series all season.

Harden (2-1, 1.80 ERA), though, hasn’t benefited from that, going 0-0 with a 2.81 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 16 innings in three starts at Wrigley since being acquired from Oakland on July 8.

The right-hander was hit hard in his last home outing on Aug. 5, allowing five runs and eight hits - including two homers - with eight strikeouts in 5 2-3 innings of an 11-7 win over Houston. Harden followed that by battling through five innings at Atlanta on Wednesday, yielding two hits with two strikeouts and five walks while throwing 92 pitches in five innings of an 8-0 win.

“I didn’t really have good stuff. I had to throw a lot of pitches,” said Harden, who’s averaged 97.5 pitches per outing in six starts with the Cubs, going only seven innings twice.

Harden won his only career start against Cincinnati (55-70) on June 9, 2004 while with the Athletics.

The Cubs have carried their success at home onto the road, going 10-1 in their last 11 contests as the visitor after an eight-run seventh inning keyed Sunday’s 9-2 win at Florida.

“A 5-1 road trip - you gotta be pleased,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “The position we’re in, winning series is what we’re shooting for.”

Chicago is 5-4 against the Reds this year with four of its wins coming at home.

The Reds are looking to build off Sunday’s 7-3 win over St. Louis, only their fifth in 22 games. They haven’t won consecutive contests since July 22-23.

“I want to see a team that competes,” Reds manager Dusty Baker told the team’s official Web site. “I don’t care who you’re playing or how many people are in the stands. I’m just glad that our young players are playing hard.”

Baker, who managed the Cubs from 2003-06, will give the ball to rookie Johnny Cueto (8-11, 4.90), one of the organization’s top young pitchers.

Cueto seeks a second consecutive winning start after allowing one run and four hits with seven strikeouts in five innings of a 3-1 road victory over Pittsburgh on Thursday.

That came after the right-hander went 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA while serving up seven homers in 35 innings over his six previous starts. That stretch began with a loss at Chicago on July 9, when he gave up five runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings as the Reds were limited to two hits in a 5-1 defeat.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Cueto Cin vs. R. Harden Oak
9-14 Record 10-2
4.81 ERA 2.07
158 K 181
68 BB 61
1.41 WHIP 1.06

Scoreboard

Tuesday, Aug 19