The Cincinnati Reds saw in the final game of their road trip that no lead is insurmountable.
With that in mind, the NL Central-leading Reds look to increase their advantage in the division Friday night when they open a three-game series against a Chicago Cubs team that is trying to match a season high with its fourth straight win.
Cincinnati (73-54) continues to maintain its lead over St. Louis in the Central after returning home from a 6-3 road trip. The Reds avoided a sweep to San Francisco with a wild 12-11 victory in 12 innings Wednesday.
Cincinnati blew a nine-run lead, falling behind 11-10 in the eighth, but Paul Janish(notes) sent the game into extra innings with an RBI single in the ninth and Joey Votto(notes) hit a two-out, tiebreaking single in the 12th.
“For them to come back like that, it could have been difficult to recover,” said Votto, who homered twice and finished with four hits and four RBIs. “Momentum plays a big role in a game like this.”
The Reds play their next six at home, facing Milwaukee next week. They are 10-3 against the Cubs this season, winning four of six at Great American Ball Park.
Pitching continues to be a concern for the Reds, however, as opponents hit .301 while scoring 63 runs on the road trip. They allowed the Giants to score 38 runs in the three games.
In his first start since serving a seven-game suspension for his role in a fight with St. Louis, Cueto lasted three innings and allowed five runs and five hits—four home runs—in an 8-5 loss at Los Angeles on Saturday.
“Because I missed one start, I was feeling weird in the first inning,” Cueto said through a translator. “I was feeling too strong. That’s why I was overthrowing, and I was missing my spots.”
Cueto pitched five scoreless innings against the Cubs (54-74) on July 3, but he walked five and left after throwing 101 pitches in a 3-1 loss at Wrigley Field.
Soriano and the Cubs come into Cincinnati after sweeping a three-game series in Washington with a 4-0 win Wednesday. Interim manager Mike Quade took over before the series and is the first Cubs manager to win his first three games since Jim Riggleman started 4-0 in 1995.
“He’s really doing a great job,” pitcher Ryan Dempster(notes) said. “It’s good for him he’s getting a great opportunity to go out there and manage. I’ve always said we never quit. Sometimes we just haven’t played as well as we want to. We’re not going to quit for him and, more importantly, we’re not going to quit for the entire team.”
The Cubs outscored the Nationals 18-5 and were led by Soriano, who went 4 for 13 with two homers and six RBIs in the series.
Gorzelanny gave up one run in seven innings of a 5-4 victory against Atlanta on Saturday to win for the first time in five starts.
The left-hander is 0-2 with a 2.79 ERA in three starts against the Reds this year, with the Cubs scoring two runs over his 19 1-3 innings.
Votto, who is hitting .455 with three homers and nine RBIs over the last five games, is 2 for 13 with six strikeouts lifetime against Gorzelanny.