The Cincinnati Reds rolled through a nine-game road trip, and with the struggling Chicago Cubs coming to town Friday night, there's little reason to think one of the best home teams in the majors won't continue its success.
While the Reds' 7-2 trip came against the Marlins, Phillies and Mets - the NL East's bottom three clubs - it was a boost for a team that won three of its first 13 road games. Cincinnati (29-18) has won 10 of 12 and 14 of 18 as it returns home, where it is 16-6.
"It's baseball, and you still have to play the games," shortstop Zack Cozart , who had a career-high four hits in a 7-4 win over New York on Wednesday, told the team's official website. "Just because we're playing teams - record-wise - that weren't as good, we have to take care of business, and we did that."
The Reds continue to be led by Joey Votto , who's batting .512 with three homers and nine RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak. He's brought his average up to an NL-leading .358.
Votto is batting .405 with six doubles over his last 10 games against Chicago (18-28).
The Cubs are still scuffling despite a rotation that continues to sparkle. Though Edwin Jackson gave up four runs over three innings in a 4-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Thursday as his outing was disrupted by a 1-hour, 47-minute rain delay, the starting staff owns a 3.45 ERA that ranks near the top of baseball.
The Cubs have lost a season high-tying four straight and five of six despite the starters posting a 2.80 ERA during that stretch. They scored six runs and struck out 26 times in three games against the Pirates.
"It was a tough series," shortstop Starlin Castro told the Cubs' official website. "Everybody tried to do their job, but it was tough."
Scott Feldman (4-3, 2.19 ERA) has been one of the reliable pitchers, especially lately as he's 4-0 with a 1.27 ERA in his last five outings - all Cubs victories. He lost each of his first three starts behind a 4.50 ERA.
"I feel healthy, my arm feels good. Mechanically everything feels a lot better than it did in spring training," Feldman said after pitching 6 2-3 shutout innings in an 8-2 victory over the Mets on Saturday. "Just keep working on that stuff and try and keep it that way for the rest of the season here."
Chicago runs into Bronson Arroyo (4-4, 3.28), who has won two straight starts while throwing 14 1-3 shutout innings and giving up 10 hits. He lost the three previous outings while allowing 12 runs over 18 innings.
Manager Dusty Baker said Arroyo pitched "masterfully" Saturday when he limited the Phillies to five hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 10-0 win.
Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips enters with a 10-game hitting streak, during which he has nine RBIs. He has never faced Feldman, who is making his first appearance against the Reds.
Arroyo is 11-9 with a 2.99 ERA in 28 appearances - 26 starts - versus Chicago. He's held left fielder Alfonso Soriano to 10 hits in 50 at-bats, striking him out 15 times.
Cincinnati holds a 40-16 edge in the series since 2010 and won five of the first six meetings this year.
|May 22, 2013||Shawn Camp||15-Day DL||Sprained right big toe|
|April 14, 2013||Steve Clevenger||60-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|April 13, 2013||Steve Clevenger||Day-to-Day||Left oblique injury|
|April 13, 2013||Kyuji Fujikawa||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|April 13, 2013||Kyuji Fujikawa||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|March 31, 2013||Darwin Barney||15-Day DL||Left knee laceration|
|April 27, 2013||Chris Heisey||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|April 27, 2013||Chris Heisey||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained hamstring|
|April 24, 2013||Manny Parra||15-Day DL||Strained left pectoral muscle|
|April 22, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||Day-to-Day||Bruised right hand|
|April 20, 2013||Zack Cozart||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right hand|
|April 20, 2013||Ryan Hanigan||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Ryan Hanigan was surprised he even got the chance.
The Cubs decided to pitch to the Reds catcher with two outs, two on and the pitcher up next.
Hanigan hit a three-run homer that put Cincinnati ahead to stay, and the Reds beat the Cubs 7-4 on Friday night for their fourth straight win.
Joey Votto extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a solo homer, and Brandon Phillips added a two-run shot. But it was Hanigan's second homer that made the difference.
With starter Bronson Arroyo on deck in the fourth inning, Cubs starter Scott Feldman (4-4) fell behind 3-0 in the count to Hanigan, then decided to try to get him out. Hanigan worked the count full before connecting for a 5-3 lead.
Surprised he even got the chance?
"A little bit," Hanigan said. "At that point in the game, I didn't think a pinch-hitter was coming in. They went at me and I got a pitch to handle. That was a big turn in the game, a five-run inning."
The game-turning pitch was a hanging curve.
"That was a really bonehead pitch," Feldman said. "With the pitcher on deck, I threw the one pitch he can hit for a three-run homer. That one stings a little bit." The big inning kept the Reds on the upswing. They've won 12 of their past 15 games, surging to a season-high 12 games over .500. At 30-18, they're three wins ahead of their pace last season, when they won 97 games and the NL Central.
They've dominated the Cubs, winning 15 of their past 17. The Reds are 18-5 overall against the Cubs in the past two seasons.
Chicago is last in the NL Central, having lost a season-high five straight. The Cubs (18-29) slid a season-low 11 games under .500.
Votto and Hanigan homered in the fourth inning off Feldman, who had only one bad inning. Feldman gave up five runs in the fourth, the same number he'd allowed in his past five starts combined.
Phillips hit a two-run shot in the eighth off Hector Rondon .
Arroyo (5-4) gave up three runs and six hits in six innings, including Feldman's first career homer. Jonathan Broxton allowed Luis Valbuena 's RBI single in the eighth.
Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for his 11th save in 13 chances. After blowing a pair of save opportunities, the left-hander has converted his past three. He gave up a single and a walk and fanned three.
The Reds had their third sellout crowd of the season, and the last two games of the series will draw capacity crowds as well.
The Cubs stacked their lineup with six position players and a starting pitcher who bat left-handed, trying a different approach against Arroyo. It worked, but not well enough.
"I didn't feel great the whole game, to be honest," Arroyo said. "They ran seven left-handers against me. They had guys from the left side that I hadn't seen a lot.
"It was a grind for me, to be honest."
Arroyo had trouble keeping his pitches down at the outset. Darwin Barney had a sacrifice fly in the second inning, and Feldman followed with his first career homer, a two-run shot for a 3-0 lead. Cubs pitchers have driven in 15 runs this season, most in the majors.
The three-run inning ended Arroyo's streak of 15 1-3 scoreless innings, his best of the season. The right-hander has won his past three starts.
Feldman had his streak of five impressive starts fall apart in the fourth.
Votto led off with his eighth homer, extending his hitting streak to 12 games, the longest by a Reds player this season. He leads the NL with a .361 batting average.
And that was just the start. Phillips followed with a single, stretching his hitting streak to a season-best 11 games, and eventually scored on Xavier Paul 's single. Hanigan's three-run homer - his second - made it 5-3.
The five runs matched the most allowed by the Cubs in an inning this season. They were the most earned runs allowed by Feldman in a game this season.
NOTES: The Reds have homered in each of their past nine games, their longest such streak since 2010. ... The Reds placed LH Sean Marshall on the 15-day DL before the game, the second time he's been sidelined by a sore pitching shoulder this season. LH Manny Parra was activated off the DL to take his place. ... LF Ryan Ludwick said his comeback from shoulder surgery is on schedule. He tore cartilage while sliding into third base on opening day. He's expected back after the All-Star break. ... Umpire Bob Davidson called a balk on Arroyo. ... LH Travis Wood , obtained by Chicago in the trade for Marshall in December 2011, makes his fourth career start against the Reds on Saturday. He's 0-1 with a 4.42 ERA against the Reds.
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