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.
- Yankees' Ellsbury may be done for season
- Kershaw wins 20th, Dodgers into playoffs
- Tigers rip Royals, extend lead to 1 1-2
- Martin's HR helps Bucs close on playoffs
- Lackey dominates, Cards maintain lead
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- Considering he hails from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, it's a safe bet Devin Mesoraco has heard a joke or two about the movie "Groundhog Day" over the years.
He just so happens to be living in a repetitive cycle right now - one he has no interest in seeing come to an end.
The hot-hitting catcher attempts to set a Cincinnati Reds record by homering for a sixth straight game Wednesday night against the Chicago Cubs.
Mesoraco is breaking out with a .320 average, 14 homers and 40 RBIs, and he's 11 for 24 with 13 RBIs in his last seven games. Those exploits have him living a real-life version of the 1993 movie based on the holiday that engrosses his hometown every Feb. 2.
His Groundhog Day includes homering in five straight games to tie the Reds record set by Ted Kluszewski in 1954 and matched by Johnny Bench (1972), Ken Griffey Jr. (2003) and Adam Dunn (2008).
Mesoraco waited until the last possible moment to add his name to the list Tuesday, connecting for a solo shot in the ninth of a 7-3 loss at Chicago - just Cincinnati's third in the past 21 games there.
"It was late in the game. All the other homers were to help the team win, and important, big homers," he said. "They actually meant a lot. That one didn't really help us come back, so it doesn't mean as much."
Mesoraco hit a grand slam the ninth inning of Monday's 6-1 win in the opener of this three-game set. He's 12 for 20 with three homers while plating nine runs over his past six meetings with the Cubs (32-43).
While another homer would set a team record, it would also make him the first major league player to go deep in six straight games since Baltimore's Chris Davis from Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2012.
The Reds (38-38) will be hoping Mat Latos (0-0, 3.86 ERA) can continue his success versus the Cubs. The right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA over his last six starts against them, and he's 3-0 with a 3.12 ERA in four career visits to Wrigley Field.
Latos was superb the last time he took the mound on the North Side, collecting nine strikeouts while scattering six hits in eight innings of a 2-0 win Aug. 12.
He wasn't close to being that effective in Friday's 14-9 loss to Toronto, giving up five runs and nine hits with three walks in 5 2-3 innings.
"I don't like taxing the bullpen. I'm extremely disappointed in myself to put it mildly," said Latos, who is getting the ball for a third time after returning from elbow and knee surgeries.
Chicago will counter with Edwin Jackson (5-7, 5.12) as it tries to win back-to-back home games versus Cincinnati for the first time since Aug. 5-6, 2011.
The right-hander has won three straight starts against the Reds behind a 3.44 ERA. He gave up two runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings of an 8-4 home win April 19, including a pair of doubles to Mesoraco.
Jackson is 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA over his last four home games, earning a 6-3 win over Pittsburgh on Friday. He struck out eight while allowing three runs in five innings.
That was a major improvement after allowing 11 runs in 10 2-3 innings while losing his previous two outings on the road.
Anthony Rizzo is 11 for 24 with three homers and six RBIs in his last six games. He's hit solo homers in the first two games of this series, but is 2 for 12 versus Latos.
Updated June 25, 2014