Reds-Cubs Preview

After missing the first 3 1/2 months of the season while

recovering from elbow surgery, Edinson Volquez has been a bit shaky

since returning to the Cincinnati Reds’ rotation.

A start against the struggling Chicago Cubs could be a good way

for him to continue getting back on track.

Volquez, who has shut down the Cubs in the past, looks to help

the NL Central-leading Reds win a third straight game Saturday at

Wrigley Field.

Cincinnati (62-48) defeated Chicago 3-0 in the series opener

Friday, winning for the seventh time in nine games. Ryan Hanigan

hit a two-run homer and Brandon Phillips added a run-scoring single

for the surprising Reds, who are 14 games over .500 for the first

time since going 96-67 in 1999.

“To win these close games – have guys go deep in the game, have

the bullpen come in for just two innings like that – that’s big,”

said Hanigan, who has 10 RBIs in his last seven games.

Cincinnati, 5-10 versus the Cubs last year, is 8-3 against them

this season. The Reds have won six of the last seven matchups,

limiting Chicago to 13 runs.

Cincinnati isn’t the only team that has given the Cubs problems,

as Chicago has plated two runs or fewer in five of its last

nine.

The Cubs (47-62), losers of eight of nine, are now set to face

Volquez, who has posted a 0.75 ERA in winning both career starts

against them.

Volquez (2-1, 6.35 ERA) hasn’t faced Chicago since his All-Star

season of 2008, as injuries have limited him to 13 starts

since.

Making his fourth start since undergoing Tommy John surgery last

August, Volquez was again wild in a 2-1 win over Atlanta on Sunday.

The right-hander walked five and hit a batter, but yielded one run

and three hits while striking out seven over five innings.

He has issued 13 walks in 11 innings over his last three

starts.

“I think it’s coming,” Volquez said. “I feel good. This is part

of the process. In my mind, I feel good. I have to put everything

together. Command is the last step.”

Volquez has a chance to improve his control against a Chicago

lineup that has the third-fewest walks in the NL with 327.

Derrek Lee, 1 for 7 against Volquez, has been a big part of the

Cubs’ struggles against Cincinnati, going 1 for 27 with eight

strikeouts in the last seven games.

While Lee has been awful versus the Reds, scheduled starter

Randy Wells is 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA in five career starts against

them.

Wells (5-9, 4.40) allowed one hit through three scoreless

innings against Milwaukee on Monday, but things quickly fell apart

for the right-hander in the fourth. He failed to make it out of the

inning, giving up seven runs and 10 hits in an 18-1 loss.

“In all reality it (stinks) to get beat up like that but I don’t

think it is anything to start looking into,” Wells said. “I just

had a bad start.”

Wells had been one of Chicago’s most reliable starters,

recording a 1.79 ERA over his previous six outings. That stretch

includes a strong performance against Cincinnati on July 3, when he

gave up one run and five hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 3-1

victory.