Braves aim to snap funk vs. Cubs, Arrieta

( - You might think a series with the Chicago Cubs would be the perfect remedy for a reeling Atlanta Braves team. But with Jake Arrieta on the mound for the Cubs, that remedy isn't quite as guaranteed to work.

The Braves head to Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon to begin a three-game series with the Cubs after dropping three of four in New York, a stretch which pushed them out of sole possession of first place in the National League East.

And under most circumstances, meeting a Cubs team they've beaten in nine of the last 10 meetings would be ideal, but the Braves enter in an offensive funk after scoring three or fewer runs for the fifth straight game. They've scored 11 runs in those five, have not hit a home run and have batted .130 with runners in scoring position.

In Arrieta, they face the Cubs' de-facto ace since the trade of Jeff Samardzija.

He's 4-0 in six starts since June 9, has held opponents to a .131 average in those games and has an ERA of 0.89.

"I was the guy in college and enjoyed that role," Arrieta said. "The college game is completely different, and the season is structured a completely different way, but I still understand that role."

He gave up one run in six innings of the Cubs' 2-1 loss at Washington on Sunday, and is 1-0 at Wrigley this season with a 1.17 ERA in four starts.

The Braves touched him for five runs in five innings in his lone career meeting with them, when he was with Baltimore in 2011.

The Cubs have averaged fewer than three runs per game in the last 10 against the Braves and scored only four runs in a May series at Turner Field.

Alex Wood can continue that dominance for Atlanta when he makes his fourth start since replacing injured teammate Gavin Floyd in June.

He allowed two runs on just three hits in a 3-1 loss to Arizona on Sunday and has a 2.25 ERA in three starts since assuming Floyd's turn. In 10 overall starts in 2014, he's 3-6 with a respectable 2.77 ERA.

He's never started against Chicago, but has tossed two scoreless innings of relief against them this season.

On Thursday in New York, Aaron Harang tossed seven strong innings, Craig Kimbrel recorded a four-out save and the Braves beat the Mets, 3-1, to avoid a four-game sweep at Citi Field.

Harang (9-6) won his fourth straight start after holding the Mets to a run on four hits and four walks.

Andrelton Simmons had two hits and scored two runs for Atlanta.

In Cincinnati, Luis Valbuena's two-run triple in the top of the 12th inning lifted the Cubs over the Reds, 6-4, at Great American Ball Park.

Arismendy Alcantara, in his second big league game, went 4-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored for the Cubs. Starlin Castro added a pair of RBI for Chicago, which went 5-6 on its 11-game road trip.