Reds hope to stay hot in Chicago, looking for fourth straight win
Wrigley Field appears to be the ideal place for the Cincinnati Reds to continue their current surge.
Looking for a fourth straight victory overall, the Reds can continue their dominance in Chicago by handing the Cubs a sixth consecutive defeat Saturday.
Alfredo Simon allowed a run over six innings and Ryan Ludwick had two hits as Cincinnati (7-9) won 4-1 at Chicago on Friday to extend its longest win streak of 2014.
Winners in 16 of 17 at Wrigley, the Reds have outscored the Cubs 17-5 during a four-game road series winning stretch.
"Believe me, we don’t take it for granted that we’re coming in here to win all the games," Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said. "I mean, we want to but we don’t take it for granted at all."
The Reds certainly won’t change that approach, especially if second baseman Brandon Phillips is unable to play after he left the series opener in the third inning with back spasms. Phillips, who had a hit Friday, is batting .333 on the road.
"Well, we hope that it’s not so severe that he can’t play (Saturday)," Price told the Reds’ official website. "He wanted to play, wanted to stay in – I just felt like it wasn’t a very good idea."
Ludwick is batting .385 (5 for 13) in his last four games, and is 4 for 10 in his last three versus Chicago (4-11).
Scheduled Reds starter and south suburban Chicago native Tony Cingrani (1-1, 2.60 ERA) has a tough act following Simon’s performance, but hopes to build on Sunday’s effort when he allowed a two-run homer in 6 1-3 innings of a 12-4 win over Tampa Bay.
The left-hander, who has yielded 10 hits in 17 1-3 innings over three starts, went 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in four outings against the Cubs last season.
Cingrani faces a Chicago team that snapped a 24-inning scoreless drought with Luis Valbuena’s RBI single in the seventh Friday. The Cubs are batting .184 with 30 hits while being outscored 25-9 during their five-game skid.
Chicago went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position Friday, dropping its average in those situations to .192.
"I concern myself more with the way we approach the game," first-year manager Rick Renteria said. "I think we’ll do better."
Chicago’s Emilio Bonifacio snapped an 0-for-13 slump with a hit Friday. The versatile lead-off man hit .500 (19 for 38) through his first eight games but is 2 for 24 in his last six.
Teammate Anthony Rizzo, meanwhile, had two hits to raise his average to .439 in the last 11 games after going 2 for 17 in the first four.
In search of his first quality start, Chicago’s Edwin Jackson (0-1, 6.19) takes the mound looking for a better effort after he allowed four runs in six innings of a 6-4 loss at St. Louis on Sunday. The right-hander has walked 11 in 16 innings.
Jackson is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in five starts against the Reds, but 0-4 with a 6.91 ERA in six starts since yielding a run over seven innings of a 9-1 victory at Cincinnati on Sept. 10.