Maybe another road trip will be good for the Cubs. After the Reds took 2 of 3 games from the Cubs this week at Wrigley Field, the Cubs home record fell to 4-4. On the road, the Cubs are a mighty 4-2. At 8-6, the Cubs trail the Cards by 2 games in the NL Central race, as the 2 teams play 3 games in St. Louis in another big weekend series. Ryan Dempster, Sean Marshall and Rich Harden will pitch for the Cubs, while the Cards will counter with Adam Wainright, Mitchell Boggs and Todd Wellemeyer.
The Reds Johnny Cueto bested Ted Lilly in Wednesday night’s 3-0 loss. Although Lilly allowed only 1 unearned in his 7 innings of work, he was on the short end of the stick as Cueto had the Cubs hitters off-balance all night long. Cueto gave up only 4 hits and no walks as the Cubs never really mounted any serious threat against the youngster. Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips each had 2 hits for the Reds, and Bruce’s solo shot in the top of the 9th inning off of Kevin Gregg gave the Reds a little cushion for closer Francisco Cordero. Milton Bradley was in the Cubs lineup, but went 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts. He still has only 1 hit on the season and his batting average is down to .043.
On Thursday afternoon, the Reds Aaron Harang out-dueled Carlos Zambrano as the Reds beat the Cubs 7-1. Joey Votto was a one man wrecking crew – going 4 for 5 with a home run and 2 doubles. Votto drove in 2 runs and scored 1 run. Harang pitched 7 strong innings giving up only 1 unearned run on 7 hits and 1 walk. Zambrano, meanwhile, gave up 3 earned runs on 7 hits and 2 walks. He did have 7 strikeouts. He is now 1-1 on the year with a hefty 4.85 ERA. Neal Cotts gave up a run in his 1 inning of work, while newly-called-up reliever Jeff Samardzija gave up 2 earned runs on 4 hits in the 9th inning. Not good all-around.
Let’s hope the Cubs can get back on track on the road. Although it’s early, the team has played uninspired ball so far this season. If they think they have the NL Central wrapped up just because they have won it the last 2 seasons, they have another thing coming. Time for Pinella to light a fire under these guys and see if a change in lineup can spark the lackluster club.