Joey Votto and the Cincinnati Reds have fallen on hard times lately, though that certainly hasn’t been the case at Wrigley Field.
The perennial All-Star looks to continue his tear at the Friendly Confines on Monday night when the Reds try to extend their franchise-best winning streak on the Chicago Cubs’ home field.
Cincinnati (37-26) will try to get back on track after missing out on a chance to make up ground in the NL Central, falling 11-4 in 10 innings to first-place St. Louis on Sunday.
Jay Bruce and Shin-Soo Choo each had two hits and went 5 for 11 in the three-game series, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Reds – who have lost five of seven – from falling four games behind the Cardinals.
“It’s hard not to be disappointed,” said manager Dusty Baker, whose team had a two-run lead heading into the seventh. “You have a game that you lead in the late innings, you’ve got to find a way to hold that.”
The Reds, however, appear to have a good chance to regroup against Baker’s former club. They’ve won 16 of 19 versus the Cubs (25-35), including seven of nine this season.
Cincinnati is also looking to extend a team-record nine-game winning streak at Wrigley Field after sweeping a three-game series there May 3-5.
Votto, who went 7 for 12 with three doubles in that sweep, had gone 4 for 31 (.129) with no homers and one RBI over an eight-game span overall before going 3 for 7 in his last two.
He should be feeling confident heading back to Chicago since he’s 13 for 23 with six RBIs and seven doubles during a seven-game hitting streak at Wrigley.
Although Votto hasn’t homered in his last 10 games, he went deep off scheduled Chicago starter Scott Feldman (5-4, 2.84 ERA) in a 7-4 win in Cincinnati on May 24.
Feldman gave up five runs over 5 1-3 innings in that outing – his first career start against the Reds. It’s the right-hander’s only loss over his last eight starts, going 5-1 with a 2.39 ERA during that stretch.
Although he didn’t get a decision in his last start, Feldman allowed two runs over six-plus innings in a 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday.
“He’s kind of changed his approach over the years,” said Jered Weaver, who opposed Feldman in that contest. “He was a hard thrower and a mid-90s (mph) guy, and now he’s mixing in that split-finger and that cutter a lot. So he’s kind of developed into a great pitcher and he’s obviously proven that this year.”
The Reds counter with Homer Bailey (3-4, 3.84), who looks to beat Chicago for the second time this season.
Bailey is 1-4 with a 5.11 ERA on the road this season, but he’s 3-1 with a 3.20 ERA in four career starts at Wrigley.
The right-hander gave up two runs with eight strikeouts over six innings in a 5-2 home win over the Cubs on May 25.
Anthony Rizzo had two of the Cubs’ five hits off Bailey in that contest and went 5 for 12 in the series, though he’s 4 for 22 over his last seven games overall.
The Cubs, who have hit .205 while losing five of seven, salvaged the finale of their three-game series against Pittsburgh with Sunday’s 4-1 victory.
Catcher Dioner Navarro went 2 for 2 in the win, and is 8 for 13 with three homers and seven RBIs over his last five games.