Cubs-Reds Preview

The Cincinnati Reds might not have much to play for in the final
two weeks of the season, but Johnny Cueto certainly has reason to
look forward to his last few starts of 2011.

Cueto continues his quest to finish with the lowest ERA in the
majors when he faces the Chicago Cubs for the second time in as
many starts Wednesday night at Great American Ball Park.

Tied with the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw for the majors’ ERA lead,
Cueto (9-5, 2.36 ERA) is aiming to become the first Reds pitcher to
lead the majors in ERA since Elmer Riddle posted a 2.24 mark in
1941.

“Of course I want to (have the lowest ERA),” Cueto told the
Reds’ official website. “I’ve put in all my best to get it
done.”

Cueto is 2-0 with a 3.23 ERA in six starts since he allowed five
runs and three walks in 3 2-3 innings of an 11-4 loss to the Cubs
on Aug. 6. He also faced Chicago in his most recent outing last
Wednesday when he gave up three runs in seven innings of a 6-3
loss.

Cueto is 1-1 with a 4.32 ERA in three starts versus Chicago
(65-83) this season – all at Wrigley Field. He’s 2-2 with a 5.04
ERA against the Cubs at Great American Ball Park.

“He’s tough, and I wish I was smart enough to know why we’ve had
some success against him, and we have,” Cubs manager Mike Quade
said.

Cueto looks to give the Reds (72-76) a second straight strong
outing after Mike Leake allowed a run in eight innings to help them
snap a three-game skid and even the set with a 2-1 victory Tuesday.
Brandon Phillips homered for the third time in the series as
Cincinnati won for just the fifth time in 15 games.

Phillips, whose three hits in six at-bats over the last two
games have all left the park, has batted .362 with four homers and
15 RBIs in his last 25 contests. He’s 9 for 27 in his last seven
versus Chicago.

Carlos Pena and Darwin Barney combined for four of the six hits
for the Cubs, who lost for just the third time in nine games.

Among the major league leaders with 190 hits, Starlin Castro had
his 13-game hitting streak snapped after going 0 for 3 on Tuesday.
The All-Star shortstop is 2 for 14 versus Cueto.

Scheduled Chicago starter Casey Coleman (2-7, 6.65) has not won
since May 19 at Florida, and is 0-3 with a 5.74 ERA in five starts
since being recalled from Triple-A Iowa on Aug. 17. He gave up four
runs and struck out five in five innings but did not factor in the
decision of a 5-4 loss at New York on Friday.

“It’s not like I’ve been getting crushed or walking people,”
Coleman told the Cubs’ official website. “It’s just the point where
if you give up a few hits, you need to bear down and get out of
it.”

The right-hander also did not earn a decision after he allowed
two runs and struck out six in six innings of a 3-2 win over
Cincinnati on May 7.