Illinois native Randy Wells makes an injury-prompted 2012 return to the big leagues today for the Chicago Cubs when they wrap up a three-game weekend set against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field.
Wells, a 12-game winner in the majors as recently as 2009, won a combined 15 games for the Cubs in 2010-11 and began this season at Triple-A Iowa, where he was 1-0 in three starts with a bloated 9.42 earned run average.
He gets another chance courtesy of veteran ex-Red Ryan Dempster, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained quad.
Wells, who is 4-1 in nine career meetings with the Reds, hasn't won in the majors since Sept. 4, when he tossed six innings of one-run ball to beat Pittsburgh, 6-3, at Wrigley.
Wells was 0-2 with two no-decisions in his final four starts of 2011. He last faced the Reds on Sept. 15 and got no-verdict in Chicago's 8-6 loss.
The Cubs ended another prolonged mound slump in Saturday's second game with Cincinnati, when left-hander Paul Maholm tossed six strong innings and the Cubs used an early offensive surge to beat the Reds, 6-1.
Maholm (1-2) gave up one run on four hits and three walks to pick up his first win since July 10, 2011. He had gone 0-7 with a 7.03 earned run average in his previous nine outings.
"I need ground balls and I need to get ahead and execute pitches," Maholm said.
Darwin Barney and Steve Clevenger both had three hits and knocked in a run for the Cubs, who snapped a six-game losing streak.
Mike Leake (0-2) allowed five runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings for Cincinnati, which was vying for its third straight win. The Reds have dropped six of nine overall.
Staff ace Johnny Cueto gets the series-closing call for the visitors in his fourth appearance of the season.
The 26-year-old Dominican beat Miami, 3-0, with seven innings of shutout ball on April 5, but has gotten no-decisions in two subsequent meetings with St. Louis - a win and a loss for the Reds - while allowing 14 hits and four runs in 12 innings.
Cueto, who posted a stingy 2.31 ERA in 156 innings last season, is 4-6 in 14 career starts against the Cubs with a 3.72 ERA.
The start is his 120th in the majors since debuting with nine wins in 2008.
Cincinnati captured 11 of its 18 matchups with the Cubs last season.