Reds-Cubs Preview

While Jay Bruce will return to the Cincinnati Reds lineup, Scott

Rolen might not be ready to do the same and Joey Votto certainly

isn’t.

A day after learning Votto will be out longer than expected,

Cincinnati hopes Bruce begins getting back on track in the finale

of a seven-game road trip Sunday against the Chicago Cubs.

The Reds (68-46) have stayed atop the NL Central with a major

league-best 21-8 record since the All-Star break despite losing

Votto to a torn meniscus July 15. The 2010 NL MVP rejoined the team

for this road swing, and it was believed he would be fully

recovered from surgery to play next week.

That hope went away with Votto returning to Cincinnati on Friday

to undergo another procedure. He had cartilage removed after

feeling soreness in the knee, pushing back his return at least

another seven to 10 days.

Rolen had been helping fill the void, batting .358 since the

All-Star break. However, a sore back has forced him to miss the

last four games, and he remains day to day.

“If we’re going to go deep (in the playoffs), we’re going to

need Scotty and we’re going to need Joey,” manager Dusty Baker told

the team’s official website. “I’d hoped we would get Joey back

pretty soon here.”

Baker now hopes Bruce can get going as he sticks the slugger

back in the lineup. He was given the last two days off – both Reds

wins – after going 1 for 16 with seven strikeouts to start the road

trip.

Bruce has a team-high 21 homers but none over his past 10 games.

He’s homered once in his last 20 at Wrigley Field.

Ryan Ludwick has stepped up, batting .380 with 19 RBIs over his

last 14 games. He’s driven in five through three games of this

series after delivering the go-ahead, two-run double in the eighth

inning of Saturday’s 4-2 victory.

“I think everyone in here is praying and wishing (Votto) can get

back as soon as possible because we definitely need him on our

team, but I think some of the guys have taken it as a challenge to

pick one another up,” Ludwick said.

Also delivering in this series are Todd Frazier, 7 for 11 with

six RBIs, and Brandon Phillips, 8 for 15 with four runs scored.

They’ll look to keep producing for Johnny Cueto (14-6, 2.58

ERA), who had won five straight starts before allowing three runs

in seven innings of a 3-1 loss at Milwaukee on Tuesday.

Cueto has given up three homers in two starts this month after

not allowing one in 11 consecutive outings.

He’s 5-6 with a 3.55 ERA in 15 starts against the Cubs. The

right-hander won the only time he faced them this year,

surrendering one earned run in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-3 road victory

April 22.

Chicago’s Brooks Raley (0-1, 15.75) gets a second start in place

of the injured Matt Garza. He had an awful major league debut

Tuesday, yielding seven runs and eight hits in four innings of a

7-4 defeat at San Diego.

“You’d have to say I was definitely nervous,” said Raley, the

Cubs’ minor league pitcher of the month for July. “It was a good

experience, a good one to get out of the way.”

All-Star Bryan LaHair is in a 3-for-34 slump for the Cubs

(44-68), losers of 10 of 11.

Reds closer Aroldis Chapman has saved the last two games,

converting 19 straight chances with 44 strikeouts over 20 2-3

scoreless innings. He’s pitched on three consecutive days only once

this season.