Reds-Cubs Preview

When Travis Wood took the mound at Wrigley Field last month, he

threw seven-plus solid innings in his major league debut.

The left-hander looks for another strong performance against the

Cubs on Sunday when the NL Central-leading Reds go for their first

series sweep in Chicago in five seasons.

Wood (2-1, 2.42 ERA), the Reds’ minor league pitcher of the year

in 2009, allowed two runs, two hits and struck out four in a 3-2,

10-inning win over Chicago on July 1.

“What was impressive was his location,” Cubs first baseman

Derrek Lee told the Reds’ official website. “Being his first major

league start, he had composure and looked good.”

Wood is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his last two starts. He threw

seven innings of two-hit ball and did not allow a runner past

second base in Monday’s 4-0 win at Pittsburgh.

“All my pitches were working well,” he said. “I was able to get

some quick outs and things went my way.”

Things have gone Cincinnati’s way versus the Cubs this season,

winning nine of 12. The bullpen yielded two ninth-inning runs

Saturday, but the Reds (63-48) held on for a 4-3 victory, their

eighth in 10 games, to move a season-best 15 games above .500.

“These games are taking some hours out of my life,” said

manager Dusty Baker. “Every time you think you have this game

figured out, something happens to let you know you don’t.”

Cincinnati, which won three of four in Chicago from July 1-4,

will look for its first sweep at Wrigley Field since Aug. 8-10,

2005. Baker was managing the Cubs in that series.

Current skipper Lou Piniella has seen his team drop nine of 10

to fall a season-worst 16 games below .500. He will give fellow

rookie Thomas Diamond (0-1, 4.50) the ball as Chicago (47-63) tries

to salvage the finale before beginning a seven-game trip Monday

against NL wildcard-leading San Francisco and archrival St.

Louis.

Making his major league debut Tuesday, Diamond struck out 10 and

gave up three runs and seven hits over six innings of a 4-3 loss to

Milwaukee. He joined Mark Prior as the only Cubs since 1920 to

debut with double digits in strikeouts.

“The goal this year was to get noticed and to try to get up

here,” Diamond said following his 122-pitch outing. “Now it’s to

try to stay here.”

The right-hander may get his first look at center fielder Drew

Stubbs, who went 3 for 4 with a homer and two RBIs Saturday after

being stuck in a 1-for-37 slide. Stubbs is batting .421 with four

home runs and eight RBIs in four games at Wrigley Field this

season.

Tyler Colvin has been far less successful on the Cubs’

homestand, going 2 for 17 with six strikeouts. Piniella said

following Saturday’s loss that Colvin, who leads all rookies with

17 homers, will not be in the lineup for a second straight day.

Kosuke Fukudome, who started in right field, was 1 for 2 with

three walks.

Lee continues to struggle versus the Reds this season, batting

.182 after going 0 for 3 and striking out with the bases loaded in

the ninth inning Saturday. Lee was 0 for 3 against Wood on July

1.