The Chicago Cubs are taking full advantage of a soft spot in their schedule and beating up on last-place teams. The Cubs have gone 7-2 thus far during a stretch of 13 straight games against cellar dwellers, and they’ll try to complete a three-game road sweep of the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday.
The Cubs ran their winning streak to five games and bumped their National League Central lead to 3 1/2 games over Milwaukee with a 9-3 win Wednesday. The Reds have lost three straight following a three-game winning streak, and their struggling pitching staff has surrendered at least eight runs in four consecutive contests. The teams have met six times over the past 10 days, and the Cubs have scored seven or more runs in five of them. Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta looks to beat the Reds for the third time in as many meetings this season when he opposes rookie righty Sal Romano.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago, FSN Ohio (Cincinnati)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Jake Arrieta (13-8, 3.63 ERA) vs. Reds RH Sal Romano (3-5, 5.32)
Arrieta is 5-1 with a 2.00 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break, and he has earned the win in his last three outings. The 31-year-old allowed two or fewer earned runs in all seven starts since the break and beat Toronto last time out with 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball. Arrieta is 7-2 with a 3.32 ERA in nine career starts against the Reds.
Romano snapped a string of three straight losses last time out, turning in one of his best big-league starts yet to win at Atlanta. The 23-year-old held the Braves to one run and five hits over seven innings for his first quality start since tossing six innings of one-run ball to beat Miami on July 23. Romano is 1-3 with a 6.63 ERA in four starts at home.
1. Chicago is 25-12 since the All-Star break and is averaging 5.9 runs per game over that stretch.
2. Reds 3B Eugenio Suarez is 11-for-29 with four homers during an eight-game hitting streak.
3. Cubs C Alex Avila is 8-for-20 during a six-game hitting streak.
PREDICTION: Cubs 7, Reds 3