The Cubs simply can't beat the Reds.
Fresh off Wednesday's 2-1 victory, the Reds look to sweep their four-game series with the Cubs on Thursday at Wrigley Field.
The Reds have won 12 straight at The Friendly Confines -- a record for an opposing team -- and 19 of the last 22 between the two clubs.
"They have a nice offense. They battle," said Cubs manager Dale Sveum, whose team has lost eight of its last 10. "They have good left-handed hitters and their right-handed hitters, you have [second baseman Brandon] Phillips, who's right up there at the top of the league in driving in runs. … That's a good lineup in most parks. You put them in a park like this and it's calm, [Wrigley] fits a lot of lineups."
The Reds won the series' first two games easily (6-2, 12-2), and then got a strong performance out of Wednesday starter Mike Leake, which saved their banged up and struggling bullpen. Reds manager Dusty Baker said Wednesday morning he hasn't been able to decipher the relievers' struggles.
"If I had it figured out, I'd have it figured out by now," Baker said. "Concerned? What are you gonna do with concern? You just do the best you can, and hopefully we'll score some more runs and pitchers will go deeper and help us out. That would really help, if pitchers can go deeper and we score more runs."
Right-hander Mat Latos, who opposes Cubs righty Jeff Samardzija on Thursday, has given the Reds length, pitching into the seventh inning in four of his last five outings. Latos is 10-0 with a 2.65 ERA in his last 20 starts dating back to last season, a team record for most consecutive regular-season starts without a loss.
Two of those outings came against the Cubs earlier this season, including seven shutout innings on April 24. Latos is 4-2 with a 2.91 ERA in seven career starts against the Cubs.
Samardzija has been just as dominant against the Reds -- posting a 1.50 ERA in two starts this season -- but he's yet to earn a win against them. The right-hander fell behind in the count a lot against the Pirates in his last outing, lasting six innings before exiting. He gave up four runs, snapping a streak of 10 straight starts at Wrigley in which he allowed three runs or fewer.
However, he did strike out seven, and he has at least seven K's in each of his last five starts.
Reds: Frazier heating up
Todd Frazier is hitting .333 with two doubles, two homers and five RBIs in June. He homered again on Wednesday, after his homer Tuesday night was hist first since April 24 (spanning 133 at-bats).
Look for it to continue, as Frazier (3-for-9) is the lone Reds player with more than eight at-bats hitting more than .273 against Samardzija.
• First baseman Joey Votto is hitting .313 with three doubles, two home runs and 10 runs scored against the Cubs this year.
• Right fielder Jay Bruce has three multi-hit games in his last five contests.
Cubs: Not-so-Friendly Confines
Despite hitting significantly better at home than on the road this season, the Cubs find themselves in a funk at Wrigley Field. They're batting only .158 in their last eight home games, averaging 1.1 runs per game.
• Closer Kevin Gregg is 7-for-7 in save situations this season, holding opponents to a .194 average.
• Chicago's David DeJesus (4-for-10) is the lone Cubs player with more than six at-bats against Latos batting more than .263 against the righty.
• Reds shortstop Zack Cozart is 4-for-9 with a homer, four runs scored and four RBIs this series.