Right-hander Homer Bailey gets another chance to right the ship for the suddenly foundering Cincinnati Reds today when they continue a four-game series at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs won Thursday's opener, 5-3, sending Cincinnati to its season-high fifth straight loss and maintaining its lead in the National League's Central Division at 2 1/2 games.
The Reds' lead stayed the same after Pittsburgh lost at home to Arizona. Cincinnati led by 5 1/2 games on Saturday and have seen three games trimmed away during its skid.
Chicago's Alfonso Soriano clubbed a tie-breaking two-run homer in the eighth inning to help the Cubs end their own eight-game losing streak with a 5-3 triumph.
Starlin Castro delivered the tying two-run double in the sixth inning and Anthony Rizzo drove in the other run for Chicago.
Sean Marshall (4-4) walked Rizzo with one out and Logan Ondrusek came in to face Soriano, who smacked a 2-2 pitch over the wall in center field. Soriano recorded his 11th straight season with at least 20 homers.
"I just didn't make my pitch like I needed to," Ondrusek said. "He laid off a curveball in the dirt and fouled off some stuff down so I thought if I elevated it I could get it by him and I just didn't get it up high enough."
Soriano joined David Ortiz and Albert Pujols as the only sluggers to record 11-consecutive 20-home run seasons, including the 2012 campaign.
"That's something to be proud of," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Not too many people can hit 20 or more home runs in 11 consecutive years. I'm just glad he did it with us."
Soriano also joined Hall of Famer Andre Dawson as the only players to hit 20 or more long balls in each of their first six seasons as a Cub.
Shawn Camp (3-5) retired the side in order in the eighth and Carlos Marmol benefited from a double play in the ninth to record his 14th save of the season.
Zack Cozart led off the opener of this four-game series with a home run and Todd Frazier also had a solo shot for the Reds.
Bailey, who improved to 9-6 with a win over Milwaukee on July 20, tries for the fourth time to reach double-digit wins for the first time in his career.
The 26-year-old Texan, who ws 9-7 in 22 starts last season, has pitched 15 2/3 innings in three outings since defeating the Brewers and is 0-1 with two no- decisions while allowing 10 runs on 23 hits.
He's 3-2 in eight career starts against the Cubs, including a 9-4 win at Wrigley on April 20 in which he allowed an earned run in seven innings.
Overall, Bailey has pitched well on the road in 2012, winning six of eight decisions with a 2.63 earned run average in 68 1/3 innings. His overall ERA is 3.98.
The Cubs reply with journeyman righty Justin Germano, who makes his first appearance since turning 30 on Aug. 6.
A 13th-round pick of the San Diego Padres in 2000, Germano has pitched with five teams in the majors, including two appearances for the Reds in 2006.
He debuted with the Padres in 2004, pitched for them again in 2007-08 and has since been with Cleveland, Boston and the Cubs.
His initial 2012 appearance was a 5 2/3-inning relief appearance with the Red Sox on July 3. He's made three outings since coming to the Cubs, going 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 13 1/3 innings.
In 5 1/3 career innings against the Reds, he's given up a run on five hits with five strikeouts.
The Reds are 999-1,019 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.