Reds begin set at Wrigley Field

Right-hander Mike Leake can record Cincinnati's 1,000th victory over the Chicago Cubs tonight when the suddenly skidding Reds head to Wrigley Field to open a four-game series.

The Reds are 999-1,018 against Chicago since the franchises began playing on April 24, 1901, when the Cubs were known as the Orphans.

Chicago dominated the matchup in the early going, winning the season series every year between 1904 and 1915 and winning or tying it every year between 1926 and 1935.

The Reds have been dominant in recent years, winning 12 of 16 games in 2010 and 11 of 18 last season before taking three of the first five this year.

Leake, a 24-year-old Californian, makes his ninth career start against the Cubs with an aim toward improving a 4-2 record against them.

He last faced them on April 21 at Wrigley, where he was ripped for 10 hits and five runs in 5 2/3 innings of a 6-1 loss.

He's been inconsistent as of late, alternating wins and losses over his last four decisions since June 29, including an 11-5 loss to San Diego on July 30 at home.

In that game, he retired just five batters while allowing five runs on five hits with three walks. In one start since - an Aug. 4 no-decision against Pittsburgh - he allowed four runs on six hits in six innings of Cincinnati's 5-4 win.

The Cubs go with winless righty Chris Volstad, who starts for just the third time since heading to the minors in mid-May.

The 25-year-old Florida native was 0-6 in eight starts through a May 17 loss to Philadelphia in which he lasted just two innings and gave up four runs on six hits in an 8-7 defeat.

He's since pitched for the Cubs on July 3 and Aug. 4, allowing 13 hits and eight runs in 11 1/3 innings in losses at Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Mixed in were 12 starts at Triple-A Iowa, where Volstad was 3-5 in 71 1/3 innings with a 5.17 earned run average and 52 strikeouts.

He's 1-3 in four career starts against Cincinnati, including a 9-4 loss on April 20 in which he allowed six runs in five innings.

On Wednesday in Milwaukee, Ryan Braun's run-scoring double in the eighth inning lifted the Brewers to a 3-2 win over the Reds, completing a three-game sweep at Miller Park.

Newly-acquired Jonathan Broxton (1-1) absorbed the loss after giving up the game-tying and winning runs in the eighth. Mat Latos went seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits and struck out eight. Latos snapped a three-start winning streak.

The Reds' lead in the National League Central Division was trimmed to 2 1/2 games when Pittsburgh won, 7-6, over Arizona.

In San Diego, Clayton Richard tossed his second career shutout and the Padres finished off a three-game sweep of the Cubs with a 2-0 victory.

Jeff Samardzija (7-10) took the hard-luck loss, Chicago's eighth straight, allowing just one run on four hits and two walks over seven innings.