Johnny Cueto is in the middle of the best season of his career, and today the right-hander aims for win No. 15 when the Cincinnati Reds complete a four-game series at Wrigley Field.
The Reds have beaten the Cubs in the last two contests, including a 4-2 come- from-behind triumph yesterday behind a three-run eighth inning.
Cueto ranks among the National League leaders in ERA, innings pitched, winning percentage (.700), and road ERA (2.83), not to mention he can tie New York's R.A. Dickey for the NL lead in wins today. The right-hander had a five-start winning streak broken his last time out, falling 3-1 at Milwaukee on Tuesday. He's 5-6 with a 3.55 ERA in 15 lifetime starts against the Cubs.
Brooks Raley makes his Wrigley Field debut this afternoon. The southpaw's contract was selected from Triple-A Iowa Tuesday and he made his major league debut that night, starting in place of and injured Matt Garza. He suffered a 7-4 loss at San Diego after being shelled for seven runs on eight hits over four innings.
Yesterday, Ryan Ludwick ripped a go-ahead two-run double during a three-run eighth inning. Todd Frazier went 2-for-3 with an RBI single, while Brandon Phillips had three hits and Ryan Hanigan added two hits for the NL Central- leading Reds.
The late-inning rally made a winner out of Bronson Arroyo (8-7), who allowed two runs on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts over eight innings. Aroldis Chapman secured his 27th save of the season with a perfect ninth inning.
"They put two (runs) on me early, and that hurt us," Arroyo said. "It was definitely one of the most gratifying wins I've had in a long time."
David DeJesus laced a two-run single and James Russell (5-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing three runs on five hits in the eighth for the Cubs, who have dropped 10 of their last 11 games.
Starter Travis Wood pitched well against his former club, despite getting a no-decision. He allowed just one run on five hits with eight strikeouts and a walk over seven innings.
"To step up like that against the right-handed lineup and his former team was great," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "It was as impressive an outing as he's had all year."
The Reds learned yesterday they will be without first baseman Joey Votto for at least another week as he recovers from arthroscopic left knee surgery.
Cincinnati will have slumping outfielder Jay Bruce back in the lineup this afternoon. He sat out the previous two games and is mired in an 0-for-12 slump.
The Reds lead the season series, 5-3.