Cubs drop fifth straight series

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Cubs drop fifth straight series

CHICAGO (AP) Johnny Cueto threw 6 1-3 strong innings to lead the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-3 win over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.

Cueto (2-0) allowed one earned run, scattering five hits. He struck out seven and lowered his ERA to 1.78 for the season.

Two runners were on base with one out when Cueto exited in the seventh. With two outs and the bases loaded, Aroldis Chapman struck out Ian Stewart looking with a fastball that registered 99 miles per hour on the stadium scoreboard, preserving the lead.

Chapman also worked a scoreless eighth, though he did walk his first two batters this season. In 10 1-3 scoreless innings, Chapman has 18 strikeouts while allowing just three hits. Former Cub Sean Marshall pitched the ninth, picking up his third save in three opportunities.

The Reds capitalized on Chicago mistakes to break a 2-2 tie in the sixth. Cubs starter Randy Wells and reliever Scott Maine combined to walk two batters and hit one more, while Geovany Soto made two throwing errors on sacrifice bunt attempts.

All told, the Reds sent eight batters to the plate in the sixth, scoring two unearned runs without the benefit of a hit.

Wells was making his first start of the season in place of Ryan Dempster, who was put on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a right quad strain. Wells struggled with his command, walking five batters in five innings and throwing just 52 of his 93 pitches for strikes.

Wells managed to keep the damage to a minimum, limiting the Reds to two runs and leaving with a no-decision. Rodrigo Lopez (0-1) took the loss in relief.

Cincinnati left 13 runners on base, while Chicago stranded 12. The teams combined to leave the bases full five times.

Joey Votto doubled twice, walked twice, scored a run and drove in another to pace the Reds' offense. The slugging first baseman went his 14th straight game without a home run.

Ryan Hanigan singled and walked twice for the Reds.

Castro singled, tripled and scored two runs for the Cubs, extending his hitting streak to 10 games, the sixth streak at least that long in his young career. He has reached base in 55 of his last 56 games.

The Reds improved to 7-0 this season when they've scored more than three runs. Cincinnati is 0-9 when scoring less than four runs.

NOTES:

Wells was recalled before the game from Triple-A Iowa, taking the roster spot of Marlon Byrd. The Cubs' starting center fielder was traded to Boston on Saturday for reliever Michael Bowden and a player to be named later. . Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he plans to "mix and match" to fill the void in center field created by Byrd's departure, using a combination Campana, Reed Johnson and Joe Mather at the position. Campana started on Sunday. . Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips missed the game because of the lingering left hamstring injury that has caused him to miss six of Cincinnati's last 12 games.

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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Grab the first goal.

The Blackhawks have scored the game's first goal in seven of the last eight games, and of those seven, they've won six of them. Meanwhile, the Lightning have scored the first goal only 17 times in 48 games this season, and are 12-5-1 in those games. They're 9-17-4 when they allow the first goal, so getting out to a lead first will be important against a struggling Lightning team looking for signs of life.

2. Will the floodgates open for Jonathan Toews?

After a four-point game in a 4-2 win over Vancouver, the Blackhawks captain matched his point total over his previous nine games. He's up to 26 points on the season, which is now fifth among Chicago forwards. When Toews has offensive droughts, they usually last longer than they should. But when he gets hot, he gets extremely hot. Perhaps we'll see the floodgates open offensively.

3. A chance for the team lead in scoring.

With an empty-net goal on Sunday, Marian Hossa tied Artem Anisimov for the team-lead with 18 goals. Artemi Panarin is right behind with 17, and Patrick Kane isn't far either at 15. The Blackhawks had four 20-goal scorers last season, and haven't had more than that since the 2013-14 season. They're definitely on pace to hit four, but could they surprass that? Richard Panik, who scored another goal Sunday as well, is fifth with 11 goals while Ryan Hartman has 10. Toews is at eight, but a flurry after a drought could make things interesting.

4. The triplets reunited?

In an effort to jumpstart a struggling offense, Lightning coach Jon Cooper reunited the triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat that was so successful during their 2015 playoff run in their latest game, a 5-3 loss to Arizona. It's unclear whether they will begin tonight's game on the same line, but if not, it's worth watching throughout the game whether they do. The Blackhawks have been coming at opponents in waves lately, so Cooper could look to separate the three to distribute the scoring.

5. Take advantage on special teams.

The Lightning have racked up the fifth-most penalty minutes in the league, and own a bottom-10 penalty kill unit at 80.1 percent. The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team, and have converted on 17.9 percent of their power plays, which sits at 16th. But they haven't scored one on the man advantage in five straight games, going 0-for-9 during that span. Here's a chance to change that.

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