The NL Central-leading Cincinnati Reds have had no trouble winning series lately, but are still seeking a lengthy winning streak.
Manager Dusty Baker feels his team is on the verge of putting one together, and Cincinnati appears to have a decent chance to do so in a series against the Chicago Cubs.
The Reds look to beat the Cubs for the sixth time in seven games in Friday’s opener at Wrigley Field.
Cincinnati (61-48) arrives in Chicago with a one-half game lead over St. Louis. The Reds, who host the Cardinals for three games beginning Monday, are in this position thanks to their consistency.
With a 9-4 victory over Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Cincinnati won for the sixth time in eight games and moved to 10-1-1 in its last 12 series.
“Yeah, we’ve got to keep winning series and hopefully you throw a sweep or two in there somewhere,” Baker said. “That’s when you get on a winning streak that we really haven’t had. We’ve been playing steady ball, but we’ve got a winning streak coming pretty soon.”
Cincinnati, which has not won more than five in a row this year, could string some victories together against a Cubs team it’s outscored 49-13 in winning five of six. The Reds, the NL leader with 536 runs and a .438 slugging percentage, have pounded out 15 homers and 20 doubles in going 7-3 against Chicago on the season.
Drew Stubbs(notes) and Jonny Gomes(notes) have led that charge, with Stubbs driving in 14 runs and Gomes knocking in 12. All-Stars Joey Votto(notes) and Brandon Phillips(notes) each have three homers against the Cubs (47-61).
Votto doubled twice Wednesday, raising his league-leading average to .324 after a sore right wrist kept him out of the lineup for two games. Votto has more homers (15) and RBIs (36) against Chicago than any other opponent, but is 2 for 12 with a home run and six strikeouts lifetime against scheduled starter Tom Gorzelanny(notes) (6-5, 3.48 ERA).
The right-hander has gone 3-1 with a 1.89 ERA in his last five road starts - a stretch that includes a 12-0 win at Wrigley Field on July 2, when he gave up two hits in six innings.
Arroyo is 4-0 with a 2.30 ERA in his last five starts against the Cubs, and has posted a 0.69 ERA in winning his last two outings at Wrigley.
He’ll be facing a Cubs lineup coming off its highest-scoring game of the year.
After being outscored 67-20 during a seven-game skid, Chicago responded with a 15-3 win over Milwaukee on Wednesday. Rookie Starlin Castro(notes) had a career-high four hits to raise his average to .318, Geovany Soto(notes) had five RBIs and new Cub Blake DeWitt(notes) drove in four.
“Let’s hope this game gives us some impetus for the Cincinnati series,” manager Lou Piniella told the Cubs’ official website. “They’re playing good ball, and we want to compete well against them.”
Gorzelanny gave up five runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-5 loss to Colorado on Saturday, not getting the decision. The left-hander, who went 4-0 with a 2.83 ERA in his previous five outings, is 0-1 with a 2.19 ERA in two starts against the Reds this year.