The Chicago Cubs got the results they were looking for in their first road trip after the All-Star break, but their inconsistent lineup is still a concern.
Facing a Cincinnati pitching staff that has been awful on the road this month could be what they need to get their bats going.
With a 10-5 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday, Chicago (48-45) finished with five victories on a seven-game trip coming out of the break.
Stringing together strong games at the plate is something that has eluded the Cubs lately, though.
Chicago defeated Washington 11-3 on Sunday to sweep the four-game series, but scored one run each time in losing its first two games to the Phillies before Wednesday’s outburst.
These last four contests were typical of the Cubs’ all-or-nothing lineup. Since June 28, Chicago has gone 13-9, averaging 6.0 runs in the victories but plating 11 in the defeats.
“We need to score runs, I’ve said that many times,” manager Lou Piniella told the team’s official Web site. “Our last three losses, we’ve scored two, one and one. You’ve got to get a shutout to win, and it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do. You’ve just got to score runs.”
Chicago hopes to break out of its offensive funk against a Cincinnati team that has been knocked around on the road lately.
The Reds (44-50) have a major league-worst 7.73 ERA in 10 road games this month. They lost 6-2 at Los Angeles on Wednesday and yielded 25 runs as they were swept in the three-game series, which began a six-game trip.
Harang (5-10, 4.17 ERA) has played a big part in Cincinnati’s woes away from home. He is 0-5 with a 5.94 ERA in eight road starts since allowing one unearned run in seven innings of a 7-1 victory at Wrigley on April 23.
The right-hander, trying to avoid losing seven consecutive decisions overall for the first time in his career, has an 8.56 ERA in his last three outings away from Great American Ball Park.
Wells gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings of a 6-5 win over the Nationals on Saturday. The right-hander yielded four runs in each of his last two starts after allowing that many once in his first 11.
In Chicago’s 6-3, 14-inning win over the Reds on June 7, Wells surrendered two runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings.