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Jun 2, 2024 9:39 am

Cubs face Reds again, go for rare back-to-back wins

Dansby Swanson

The Chicago Cubs haven’t won consecutive games in nearly a month.

They’ll try to accomplish the feat again on Sunday afternoon when they host the Cincinnati Reds in the rubber match of their three-game set.

“Everyone here is here for a reason,” Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson said. “Everyone here has a specific trait or traits that will help us win ballgames, and it’s just a matter of each person doing that. We’ve got a lot of belief in one another, top to bottom, whether it’s starters, bullpen, guys that are playing every day.”

The Cubs had lost eight of nine games before Swanson’s tie-breaking, two-run homer in the eighth inning Saturday propelled them to a 7-5 victory over the Reds.

The lone win in Chicago’s nine-game slump had come Tuesday against Milwaukee when rookie pitcher Ben Brown gave up no hits through seven innings, fanning 10 and walking a pair in the Cubs’ 6-3 victory. Brown has allowed just two hits in his past three appearances (two starts).

Brown (1-1, 2.72 ERA) will be on the mound again Sunday, facing Cincinnati for the first time in his career as Chicago tries for its first two-game winning streak since the team beat the Brewers on May 4-5.

“Ben’s doing a heck of a job,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said of the right-hander. “If we can get more healthy pitchers back and we have tough decisions, then that’s a good thing.”

Chicago struggled offensively for much of May but could be on the verge of turning a corner. After averaging 3.25 runs per game from May 6-23, the team has boosted that to just over 4.6 per game over the past eight. The Cubs also have at least one home run in five straight games.

The Reds had won five of seven games before Saturday’s setback and took a 4-0 lead in the second inning Saturday. After the Cubs rallied to go ahead 5-4, Cincinnati responded in the fourth to tie the score.

“It was almost like two different games really, for both teams,” Reds manager David Bell said. … “There was more offense early.”

The differing efforts also can be said for the Reds over their past eight games. They outscored opponents 19-9 over a four-game winning streak from May 24-27. Since then, they’ve been outscored 23-14 in dropping three of four.

Jonathan India has at least one hit in three straight games and six of his past eight contests after a five-game drought. The second baseman is batting .375 during that stretch, going 9-for-24.

It’s been a tough series for Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz. The 22-year-old is 0-for-9 through the two games against the Cubs so far, striking out five times and drawing just one walk.

Reds starting pitcher Hunter Greene allowed five runs on three hits with five walks and five strikeouts through six innings on Saturday, but much of that damage came early. Over his final three innings, he allowed one walk allowed and struck out two.

Nick Lodolo (4-2, 3.12 ERA) will start for the Reds on Sunday. The left-hander is 0-1 with a 4.66 ERA in two career starts (9 2/3 innings) against the Cubs.

–Field Level Media

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