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May 31, 2024 2:27 am

Cubs, Reds both sputtering entering three-game set

Chicago cubs

May can’t end soon enough for the Chicago Cubs or Cincinnati Reds. And with one day left in the month, each will look to close it on a high note when the Cubs host the Reds for a three-game series beginning Friday.

The Cubs are 10-17 in May, have lost eight of their past 10 games and 10 of their past 13, including falling 6-4 to the Milwaukee Brewers in their most recent outing on Thursday. That dropped them to 28-29 on the season, putting them below .500 for the first time since March 31 — then three games into the season.

Chicago was six games above the mark and half a game behind the division-leading Brewers when the month began.

“We’re in a tough stretch,” manager Craig Counsell said. “When you’re in a tough stretch, it feels like you don’t get breaks. We’ve got to make our own breaks. And we’ll keep doing that.”

The setback against the Brewers was their fifth straight series loss.

The Cubs hit three home runs in the series-finale loss. They’ve hit at least three in a game four other times this season and won each of those.

“The hard thing about baseball is that things don’t really go your way,” outfielder Seiya Suzuki said through an interpreter. “But it’s just fighting through it. And I think we’re all trying to work together to get those wins little by little. It’s all about staying persistent, and just keep on working.”

Javier Assad (4-1, 2.17 ERA) will get the nod for the Cubs on Friday. The right-hander is 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA in five career appearances (three starts) against Cincinnati. He is 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA in five starts in May, with Chicago winning four of those games.

The Reds haven’t fared much better.

Cincinnati, which sits last in the National League Central, is 8-18 in May. Three of the Reds’ eight wins came in a series sweep against the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, and they followed that up with a victory against the St. Louis Cardinals to reach a season-high four-game winning streak.

They enter Friday’s game having lost two straight to the Cardinals after their run of success, getting outscored 12-4 in the defeats.

The Reds are nine games behind the division-leading Brewers and 4 1/2 out of a wild-card spot, with several teams ahead of them. They know they can’t look too far ahead.

“Little by little. Day by day,” third baseman Jeimer Candelario said. “We’ve just got to take care of our today.”

Friday opens the first of two series against Chicago over the next week and is one of four against division foes for Cincinnati. The Reds have had just two division matchups thus far and have lost both.

“When you’re playing in the division, these games are obviously a little more intense, a little bit more personal,” Reds outfielder Will Benson said. “I think we’re going to match that level of intensity. I hope we do. The intensity of these games (is) going to be like no other.”

Graham Ashcraft (4-3, 4.67) will take the mound for Cincinnati. He has allowed 30 runs on 34 hits, with 22 strikeouts, in six career games against the Cubs, going 1-5 with a 9.45 ERA.

–Field Level Media

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