Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011
Posted: 9:13 a.m.
(AP) -- Randy Wells has been a consistent bright spot for the Chicago Cubs for more than a month.
The right-hander looks to win a sixth straight decision and help the Cubs salvage a split of their four-game road set with the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night.
Wells (7-4, 4.73 ERA) was 2-4 with a 6.16 ERA in his first 12 starts, which were interrupted by a stint on the disabled list because of a right forearm strain. Since the beginning of August, however, he's 5-0 with a 3.02 ERA in eight starts, and he's allowed four runs in 28 2-3 innings while going 3-0 in his last four outings - all Cubs wins.
Wells allowed two runs in seven innings Saturday but did not factor in the decision in a 5-4 victory at New York.
"All I care about is if the team wins, that makes it a lot better," Wells told the Cubs' official website.
The only Chicago defeat during Wells' last eight starts came in his lone 2011 appearance versus Cincinnati (73-76). He yielded six runs and three homers in seven innings of an 8-7 loss Aug. 7.
He will try to help the Cubs (65-84) avoid a third consecutive defeat. They totaled three runs and 13 hits while losing the last two games after pounding out 16 hits during a 12-8 victory in Monday's series opener.
One night after his 13-game hitting streak was snapped, All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro went 2 for 3 in Wednesday's 7-2 loss to extend his streak of reaching base to 27 games. The NL leader with 192 hits, Castro has batted .432 (16 for 37) with eight RBIs in his last nine contests versus Cincinnati.
"Finishing strong is big," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "If we're going to do that, then individual players are going to have to finish strong."
Castro's only hit in four at-bats against scheduled Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey (8-7, 4.34) left the park. Bailey allowed four runs and walked three in six innings May 16 but still earned the win in the Reds' 7-4 home victory in his only 2011 start versus Chicago.
The right-hander was 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA in his previous four starts overall before working 7 2-3 innings of a 4-1 win at Colorado on Friday for his first victory since Aug. 13.
"When you're going out there and you're on the same page with your catcher and the game can flow really quick, good things are going to happen," Bailey said.
Ramon Hernandez hit a three-run homer and infielder Juan Francisco drove in two runs Wednesday as the Reds overcame a back injury to starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, who left the game in the fourth inning.
Trying to solidify a future in Cincinnati, Francisco is 4 for 12 with a homer and four RBIs in the series. He also turned in a defensive gem from third base Wednesday, throwing out Marlon Byrd from foul territory in the ninth inning.
"You practice that every day," Francisco said. "I watch Scott Rolen."
Cincinnati has won six of eight versus Chicago this season at Great American Ball Park.
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