The last time the Chicago Cubs won seven games in a row, they
went on to win the NL Central. Another division crown is unlikely
to happen, and just matching that win streak may prove difficult
against Johnny Cueto.
The Cubs look to continue their surprising surge and possibly
prevent Cueto from becoming the NL’s ERA leader when they face the
Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field on Saturday.
Chicago (48-65) won its sixth straight Friday with a 4-3 victory
over Cincinnati. The club hadn’t won more than three consecutive
games in 2011 before this streak, which equals its longest from
The Cubs last won seven straight from Aug. 23-29, 2008, en route
to their most recent playoff appearance, but the postseason appears
out of reach this year as they sit fifth in the Central.
“Everybody loves winning,” manager Mike Quade told the Cubs’
official website. “I think these guys have hung in all year long.
Things pick up when you win and the way we’re doing it as far as
picking each other up.”
Chicago’s win streak may be in for its stiffest test yet versus
Cueto (7-4, 1.72 ERA), who hasn’t allowed more than three earned
runs in any of his 16 starts this year. Maintaining that streak for
at least 3 1-3 innings Saturday will qualify his ERA as the lowest
in the NL, currently owned by San Francisco’s Ryan Vogelsong
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.48 ERA in his last four starts
against Chicago. Cueto went six innings in a 2-0 victory at Wrigley
on May 8 to win his only game versus the Cubs this year, and he’s
allowed one run in his last 19 innings against them.
He was dazzling in his latest trip to the mound Sunday, tossing
a three-hitter in a 9-0 win over San Francisco.
“He’s learning to pitch to contact early in the game,” catcher
Ramon Hernandez said. “He’s not trying to overpower anybody; he
doesn’t try to strike out every hitter.”
His latest performance helped the Reds (54-58) complete a
three-game sweep of the reigning World Series champion, but they’ve
since dropped three of four.
They lead the majors with 26 one-run defeats and own a .185
average with runners in scoring position during a 2-6 run on the
road, going 1 for 8 on Friday.
“Seems like we can’t get the big hit when we need a clutch hit,”
manager Dusty Baker said.
Brandon Phillips had two hits Friday and is batting .339 with
five doubles and 11 RBIs in 13 games, but he’s 2 for 22 with one
homer over the last three seasons versus Carlos Zambrano,
Saturday’s scheduled starter.
Zambrano (8-6, 4.46) has a 2.41 ERA over his last three starts
and is coming off his second win in that span, allowing one run in
six innings of Monday’s 5-3 victory at Pittsburgh.
“Personally I feel like I’ve been throwing the ball good,” said
Zambrano, who also has singled in three straight starts and is
batting .333 on the season.
Zambrano held the Reds scoreless for five innings in his only
start against them May 16 but allowed six runs in the sixth of a
7-4 loss. He was 7-1 with a 1.56 ERA in his previous eight starts
Tony Campana will try to spark the Cubs again after getting
three hits Friday, including an inside-the-park home run – his
first career homer. The rookie is 6 for 14 against the Reds this
“He’s been a real good addition off the bench for sure,” Quade