The Cincinnati Reds rolled through a nine-game road trip, and with the struggling Chicago Cubs coming to town Friday night, there's little reason to think one of the best home teams in the majors won't continue its success.
While the Reds' 7-2 trip came against the Marlins, Phillies and Mets - the NL East's bottom three clubs - it was a boost for a team that won three of its first 13 road games. Cincinnati (29-18) has won 10 of 12 and 14 of 18 as it returns home, where it is 16-6.
"It's baseball, and you still have to play the games," shortstop Zack Cozart, who had a career-high four hits in a 7-4 win over New York on Wednesday, told the team's official website. "Just because we're playing teams - record-wise - that weren't as good, we have to take care of business, and we did that."
The Reds continue to be led by Joey Votto, who's batting .512 with three homers and nine RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak. He's brought his average up to an NL-leading .358.
Votto is batting .405 with six doubles over his last 10 games against Chicago (18-28).
The Cubs are still scuffling despite a rotation that continues to sparkle. Though Edwin Jackson gave up four runs over three innings in a 4-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Thursday as his outing was disrupted by a 1-hour, 47-minute rain delay, the starting staff owns a 3.45 ERA that ranks near the top of baseball.
The Cubs have lost a season high-tying four straight and five of six despite the starters posting a 2.80 ERA during that stretch. They scored six runs and struck out 26 times in three games against the Pirates.
"It was a tough series," shortstop Starlin Castro told the Cubs' official website. "Everybody tried to do their job, but it was tough."
Scott Feldman (4-3, 2.19 ERA) has been one of the reliable pitchers, especially lately as he's 4-0 with a 1.27 ERA in his last five outings - all Cubs victories. He lost each of his first three starts behind a 4.50 ERA.
"I feel healthy, my arm feels good. Mechanically everything feels a lot better than it did in spring training," Feldman said after pitching 6 2-3 shutout innings in an 8-2 victory over the Mets on Saturday. "Just keep working on that stuff and try and keep it that way for the rest of the season here."
Chicago runs into Bronson Arroyo (4-4, 3.28), who has won two straight starts while throwing 14 1-3 shutout innings and giving up 10 hits. He lost the three previous outings while allowing 12 runs over 18 innings.
Manager Dusty Baker said Arroyo pitched "masterfully" Saturday when he limited the Phillies to five hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 10-0 win.
Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips enters with a 10-game hitting streak, during which he has nine RBIs. He has never faced Feldman, who is making his first appearance against the Reds.
Arroyo is 11-9 with a 2.99 ERA in 28 appearances - 26 starts - versus Chicago. He's held left fielder Alfonso Soriano to 10 hits in 50 at-bats, striking him out 15 times.
Cincinnati holds a 40-16 edge in the series since 2010 and won five of the first six meetings this year.