They’ll try to defeat Lilly for the fifth straight time Wednesday night when they continue a three-game road series against the Chicago Cubs.
Lilly (2-0, 3.86 ERA) set a career high with 17 wins last season to help Chicago (8-4) win a second straight NL Central title, but four of his nine losses came to the Reds (7-6). He went 0-4 with an 8.15 ERA in four starts versus Cincinnati, getting pulled before the end of the third inning twice.
Lilly was very sharp his last time out, carrying a no-hitter through 6 2-3 innings on April 13 in a 4-0 win over Colorado in the Cubs’ home opener. He gave up a hit and a walk and exited to a standing ovation in the seventh inning.
“I was aware, but I wasn’t really thinking about it,” Lilly said. “I was still trying to focus on making quality pitches, not so much how am I going to protect that, you know protect the no-hitter.”
While Lilly lost all four outings against the Reds last year, Cincinnati starter Johnny Cueto (0-1, 4.22) has dropped three straight against the Cubs with a 4.74 ERA in that span. Cueto actually pitched well in his two losses at Wrigley Field, posting a 3.29 ERA.
Cueto, a 23-year-old right-hander, lasted 4 2-3 innings and allowed one run and two hits and issued six walks Friday in a 2-1 win at Houston.
The Reds, who have lost seven of their last 10 games at Wrigley Field, fell 7-2 on Tuesday as the Cubs’ Aramis Ramirez had three hits and three RBIs. Micah Hoffpauir, who is in the lineup for Milton Bradley, added his first homer of the season.
The Cubs opted to give Bradley another day off Tuesday because of the wet weather. Bradley, in a 1-for-19 slump, has been out of the lineup for six straight games with a right groin strain, but will return soon.
“It’s supposed to improve (Wednesday) and the next day and it’s supposed to be decent over the weekend and then we go to Phoenix,” manager Lou Piniella told the Cubs’ official Web site. “We’ll play in better weather and we’ll get him in there to play as soon as he’s ready.”
Reds right fielder Jay Bruce returned after not starting the last three games with a sore right hand, and went 2-for-4 with a homer in his first at-bat.
Cincinnati continues to get nothing from cleanup hitter Brandon Phillips, who was 0-for-4 on Tuesday and is hitless in his last 21 at-bats. Phillips is a career .195 hitter at Wrigley Field in 24 games, including 3-for-34 (.088) since the start of the 2008 season.