Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs
- Cincinnati defeated Toronto, 4-3, at home on Sunday, and including taking two of three from the Jays over the weekend, has now won three straight series -- tied with the A's and Dodgers for the longest active streak in the majors. The Reds have played 29 one-run games (14-15 record) in 2014 -- tied with the Red Sox for second most in the majors (Pittsburgh -- 32).
- The Cubs lost, 2-1, to the Pirates yesterday, and are now 7-13 (.350) in one-run affairs this season -- worst in the NL and second worst in MLB overall (Royals are 8-15, .348). Dating to June 3 vs. the Mets, Chicago has won four of its last six series.
- The Reds took two of three from the Cubs in Chicago earlier this season, and are 19-4 on the road against Chicago since the beginning of 2012 overall. Cincinnati has won seven straight series at Wrigley Field.
- Alfredo Simon went 6.1 innings and allowed three runs (all earned) in Pittsburgh in his last outing, garnering the victory, and winning his fourth consecutive start in the process. Simon (2-0, 1.50 ERA in two career starts vs. Cubs) is 7-1 on the road in 2014 -- the most road wins by any MLB pitcher.
- Jeff Samardzija went 6.0 innings and allowed three runs (all unearned) in his last outing vs. the Marlins six days ago, but was saddled with his seventh no-decision of the season for his efforts. Dating to August 18, 2012, Samardzija is 0-5 with a 4.75 ERA in his last eight starts against the Reds.
- The Reds are 7-2 (.778) in their last nine road contests -- the best road record in MLB since May 30. The Cubs are 9-4 (.692) at Wrigley Field since May 17 -- the best home mark of any NL club during that span, and third best in MLB overall.
- BoSox DH Ortiz in lineup vs. Price, Rays
- Giants purchase contract of 2B Uggla
- Cubs rally, Cards lose fourth straight
- Capuano to start for Yankees on Saturday
- Mets' Matsuzaka to have elbow examined
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- The Chicago Cubs are in the NL Central basement and scuffling at the plate during their latest slide.
They may not need to produce much with Jake Arrieta taking the mound.
Arrieta looks to continue his outstanding stretch and end the Cubs' dismal one in his first career meeting with hot-hitting Devin Mesoraco and the visiting Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
Chicago (31-43) is batting .168 while going 0 for 16 with runners in scoring position during a three-game losing streak. The Cubs went 0 for 6 in such situations Monday, totaling five hits in a 6-1 defeat to Cincinnati.
Chicago has lost 18 of the past 20 home meetings with the Reds (38-37), batting .217 while averaging 3.0 runs.
Pushing three runs across could be enough with Arrieta (3-1, 1.98 ERA) getting the ball.
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 0.45 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 20 innings over his last three starts. He fanned a career-high 11 and allowed a run over seven innings in Wednesday's 6-1 win at Miami.
"I'm not doing anything different," said Arrieta, who has a 5.02 ERA in four-plus seasons with Baltimore and Chicago. "I'm just commanding everything down in the strike zone and trying to force early contact. Strikeouts are just a byproduct of throwing several plus pitches for strikes."
That approach especially seems to be working at home, where Arrieta has allowed one run in 16 innings in three starts.
"I think he is commanding his fastball better, and his breaking ball is starting to get some bite and location," manager Rick Renteria said. "He's got great stuff, and he's very composed."
Arrieta, though, will have to contend with Mesoraco, who has homered in four straight games and is 9 for 20 with 11 RBIs in the past six. The catcher hit a grand slam in the ninth after walking twice and being hit by pitches on two other occasions Monday.
Mesoraco owns a .413 average over his last 15 games against the Cubs. If he goes deep again Tuesday, he'll tie the franchise record for consecutive games with a homer at five, reached four times - most recently by Adam Dunn in 2008.
The Reds are hoping Homer Bailey (7-3, 4.68) can continue his success against Chicago. The right-hander is 7-0 with a 3.08 ERA over his last 10 starts in the series, and that includes a 2.23 ERA and 5-0 record in six games at Wrigley Field since losing his first visit on Sept. 13, 2009.
Bailey hasn't been nearly that sharp lately, compiling a 5.25 ERA while not getting a decision over his last two starts after winning four in a row behind a 3.00 ERA.
He was victimized by a big inning Thursday, when all three runs he allowed came in the fifth before he left with two outs in the sixth of a 4-3 loss in 12 at Pittsburgh.
The Cubs' Anthony Rizzo is providing an offensive bright spot, going 8 for 20 with two doubles, two homers and five RBIs in his last five games. The first baseman homered and singled Monday.
Rizzo has reached successfully in 10 of his 19 plate appearances against Bailey, walking six times.
Updated June 24, 2014