by Mike Stewart
The Cincinnati Reds managed to avoid a sweep at St. Louis on Thursday and may have turned their fortunes on offense as well.
The Reds have scored two runs or less in each of their last seven losses but broke out for three home runs in a 6-3 triumph on Thursday. It doesn’t take much offense to knock off the Chicago Cubs, who totaled six runs in being swept by the Miami Marlins this week.
The Cubs became the second team in the majors to reach the 10-loss plateau and have dropped five straight overall.
As weak as the bats have been, the bigger problem for Chicago is the pitching, which has seen every member of the rotation except for Ryan Dempster struggle the last time through. Cincinnati’s $72.5 million second baseman, Brandon Phillips, hit his first homer of the season on Thursday. It was just the second extra-base hit for the former All-Star, who joins every regular in the Reds lineup below .300.
Bailey has surrendered 13 hits and seven walks in a total of 11 2/3 innings. The 25-year old has received a total of two runs of support but has not helped himself with his control issues. He has struggled against Chicago in the past, going 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA while issuing 19 walks in 32 total innings. Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano and Starlin Castro have each homered off Bailey.
Volstad has only walked two batters in 11 innings but could not avoid the big inning in a start at St. Louis last weekend. The 6-8 right-hander has made three career starts against Cincinnati, going 1-2 with a 4.34 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP. Phillips and Joey Votto are a combined 6-for-14 with six RBIs against Volstad.
1. Cubs RP Kerry Wood had a cortisone shot in his right elbow and will be evaluated on Friday.
2. Castro has reached base safely in 52 of his last 53 games and leads Chicago with seven stolen bases.
3. Drew Stubbs’ home run Thursday marked his first extra-base hit of the season.
MLB BASEBALL PREDICTION: Cincinnati 4, Chicago 3
alfonso soriano - brandon phillips - chicago cubs - chris volstad - cincinnati reds - drew stubbs - homer bailey - joey votto - kerry wood - marlon byrd