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Fri, Apr 20, 2012 - 2:20 PM ET
 

Reds-Cubs Preview

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The Cincinnati Reds may have snapped out of their offensive funk. That has to be welcome news for Homer Bailey.

Bailey will make his first start at Wrigley Field in three seasons Friday when the Reds and Chicago Cubs renew their NL Central rivalry.

After scoring two runs or fewer in each loss during a 1-5 start to its 10-game trip, Cincinnati (5-8) hit a season-high three homers - one apiece from Brandon Phillips, Ryan Ludwick and Drew Stubbs - and avoided getting swept by St. Louis with Thursday's 6-3 victory.

The Reds had one total home run in their previous nine games.

"It's been so long since we played a game like that," manager Dusty Baker said. "I'm just glad our offense got clicking."

Bailey (0-2, 5.40 ERA) probably is too. The Reds have scored one run in each of his first two starts.

"We have good hitters, and it's going to come around," Bailey told the Reds' official website after allowing three runs in six innings of Saturday's 4-1 loss at Washington.

The Reds totaled 15 runs in the right-hander's two starts against the Cubs last season. Bailey went 1-0 with a 5.25 ERA in those outings.

Bailey, who lost his only career appearance at Wrigley on Sept. 13, 2009, will face a Chicago team returning home after losing five straight to end its six-game trip.

The Cubs (3-10), who have a major league-low five homers, are batting .206 with 10 total runs since defeating the Cardinals 9-5 last Friday.

"It will be nice to get back home," manager Dale Sveum said following Thursday's 5-3 loss to Miami.

Chicago will give the ball to Chris Volstad (0-1, 4.91) as it tries to avoid its first six-game losing streak since an eight-game slide May 30-June 7.

The first-year Cub will try to deliver another solid outing after walking none and giving up three earned runs in six innings of Saturday's 5-1 loss to St. Louis.

"(Volstad) was pitching pretty good," Sveum told the Cubs' official website. "I don't know if (the error by Starlin Castro in the fourth inning) got him off kilter a little bit. Other than that, he did OK."

Volstad, though, has gone 0-6 with a 4.17 ERA in his last 13 starts. He is one of two pitchers, along with Minnesota's Nick Blackburn, with no victories in at least 10 starts since last season's All-Star break.

Volstad is 1-2 with a 4.34 ERA in three starts against the Reds - all while with the Florida Marlins. He faced Cincinnati once last season, yielding three runs in a 3-2 home loss Aug. 24.

Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who homered off Volstad in that game, hasn't gone deep in his last 36 at-bats at Wrigley.

Phillips led the Reds with four homers against the Cubs last season, but all of those came during a four-game series in Cincinnati from Sept. 12-15.

The Reds hit 21 homers against Chicago in 2011 - tied for their most against any opponent.

Ludwick, who will face the Cubs for the first time in a Reds uniform, is batting .402 (37 for 92) with seven homers and 27 RBIs in his last 24 games at Wrigley.

Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd, batting .075 after a 2-for-19 effort on the just-completed trip, is 3 for 8 with two homers versus Bailey.

The Reds, winners of three straight versus Chicago, haven't posted back-to-back victories this season.

Tagged: Cubs, Reds, Homer Bailey, Chris Volstad

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