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Cincinnati Reds (7-10) at Chicago Cubs (5-11)
Sunday, April 20 - 2:20 PM EST
Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois
-128, 118 N/A
Their five-game losing streak is behind them and now the Chicago Cubs have a shot at their first series victory of the season when they host the Cincinnati Reds for the rubber match of a three-game series Sunday. To claim the series, the Cubs will have to win their second straight home game against the Reds after losing 16 of the previous 17 meetings at Wrigley Field. Cincinnati has a chance to claim its first road series win in three tries this season.
Chicago's offense has sputtered but broke out with three home runs in an 8-4 win Saturday. "It only takes one game or one at-bat to really get a team going," third baseman Mike Olt told reporters. "Hopefully we can come in (Sunday) and stay focused and start where we left off." Cincinnati hopes to continue its success against the Cubs with Homer Bailey on the mound — the Reds have won the last nine games Bailey has started against Chicago.
TV: 2:20 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Cincinnati), WCIU (Chicago)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds RH Homer Bailey (0-1, 8.16 ERA) vs. Cubs RH Carlos Villanueva (1-3, 11.57)
Bailey has hardly lived up to the hefty contract extension he signed in the offseason, failing to pitch past the fifth inning in any of his first three starts. His last outing was puzzling, as he racked up nine strikeouts but also surrendered four home runs while taking a no-decision against Pittsburgh. Bailey is 7-2 with a 4.48 ERA in 13 starts against the Cubs, including a 4-1 mark and a 2.95 ERA in six outings at Wrigley Field.
Villanueva's transition to the rotation took a nasty turn in his last outing, as he was tagged for nine runs and 10 hits over three-plus innings in a loss at St. Louis. The 30-year-old is 2-3 with a 4.12 ERA in 25 games (seven starts) against Cincinnati, and he hasn't beaten the Reds since earning a win in relief in 2010. Villanueva is pitching at home for only the second time this season — he beat Philadelphia with five innings of one-run ball in his first start at Wrigley.
1. Reds C Devin Mesoraco is riding an eight-game hitting streak, tied for the longest of his career.
2. Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo left Saturday's game with back spasms but hopes to be back in the lineup Sunday.
3. Cincinnati LHP Sean Marshall (shoulder) was activated from the disabled list Saturday, bolstering the Reds' bullpen.
PREDICTION: Reds 7, Cubs 4