Cincinnati (17-16) at Chicago (15-17)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 61° F
  • Game info: 2:20 pm EDT Sun May 8, 2011
  • TV: FSOH, WGN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker would like to give Joey Votto(notes) a day off sometime soon. The reigning NL MVP’s strong start and some ill-timed injuries are making that difficult.

If he doesn’t rest Sunday, Votto will attempt to tie a 30-year-old team record in the series finale against the Chicago Cubs.

Votto has started all 33 games this season but has hardly shown signs of fatigue with a .345 average and 18 RBIs. He’s reached base in every game, one shy of the club’s modern-day record streak to begin a season, set by Dave Collins in 1981.

Votto’s longest streak at any point in a season is 41 games, snapped by a first-inning ejection at Wrigley Field on July 4.

“He’s going to need a day sooner or later,” Baker told the team’s official website before Friday’s series opener. “I remember Hank Aaron used to tell us to shoot for 150 (games) and two days off a month, which are more mental days off than physical days off.”

Making it difficult for Votto to get a day off is a rash of injuries for the Reds (17-16). His backup, Miguel Cairo(notes), is dealing with a sore right knee. Shortstop Paul Janish(notes) sat out Saturday’s game at Wrigley with a sprained right ankle, and third basemen Scott Rolen(notes) (shoulder) and Juan Francisco(notes) (calf) are on the disabled list.

Despite those injuries, the Reds nearly added to their recent dominance of the Cubs (15-17) on Saturday. They entered the ninth inning with a one-run lead, but closer Francisco Cordero(notes) suffered his first blown save while giving up four hits.

Kosuke Fukudome’s(notes) single delivered a 3-2 win to the Cubs. Carlos Pena’s tying home run was his third in four games and his first at Wrigley.

Cincinnati had won five straight there and 11 of 13 overall against Chicago.

Votto is 3 for 15 with two walks in his career against Ryan Dempster(notes) (1-3, 8.05 ERA), who looks to build off his best start in what’s been a difficult season.

The right-hander allowed one run and six hits over seven innings Tuesday in Los Angeles, but didn’t earn the victory in a 4-1 win.

“I’ve put those first six starts behind me,” said Dempster, who had a 9.58 ERA in the season’s first month. “The nice part is that my mom was saying to me: ‘April showers bring May flowers.’ So hopefully, that’s the case. But I’m not going to relax at all after one good outing. Trust me. I’m going to keep pushing and working hard and get on a roll as best I can.”

Dempster was 0-2 with a 4.73 ERA in his two starts against the Reds in 2010.

It’s also been a tough year for Johnny Cueto(notes), who makes his season debut for Cincinnati on Sunday.

Irritation in the muscles of his pitching arm have kept Cueto off the mound following a solid 2010 season in which he went 12-7 with a 3.64 ERA. He was 0-2 with a 6.28 ERA in four rehab starts at Triple-A Louisville.

Cueto was 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA in two starts versus the Cubs last season.

Current Cubs players are a combined 39 for 130 (.300) against the right-hander with Marlon Byrd(notes) going 4 for 5. Cueto has given up three home runs to Alfonso Soriano(notes), tied for his most against any hitter.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Cueto Cin vs. R. Dempster ChC
9-5 Record 10-14
2.31 ERA 4.80
104 K 191
47 BB 82
1.09 WHIP 1.45

Scoreboard

Sunday, May 8