After a 1-8 start in games away from Great American Ball Park this season, the road has recently been more kind to the Reds, who have won 16 of their last 23 road contests. The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field, where the Reds take on the Cubs in Game 3 of a four-game series on Wednesday, have been especially good to Cincinnati.
Heading into the matchup between starting pitchers Mike Leake and Travis Wood, the Reds have won 11 straight at Wrigley, a record for any Cubs opponent. Cincinnati has also dominated the series in general as of late, winning eight of the last nine and 18 of the last 21 against Chicago.
According to the Reds, there's no profound key to the team's success against the Cubs in recent history.
"Our hitters touched home plate more than theirs," said starting pitcher Homer Bailey, who earned the win in the series opener on Monday. "Good strategy. Great strategy. That's how you win games."
If the Cubs hope to break Cincinnati's string of success against them on Wednesday, they'd be well-served if star shortstop Starlin Castro broke out of his recent cold streak at the plate. For the fourth time in the last five games, Castro went hitless on Tuesday night. He enters Wednesday 3-for-his-last-40 (.075), and he has just one RBI since May 22.
"I just think he's in a slump and he's going to turn it around pretty soon," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "It's tough, and I feel bad for him that he's going through this. And obviously, we'd love better production and hopefully we will get better production going forward. In a way, it shouldn't be unexpected. Baseball is a game of failure and adjustments."
Reds: Leake tries to get back on track
Before giving up three runs in his last outing on Friday against the Cardinals, Leake had been on a roll, surrendering just one run in 27 innings, a span that covered four starts. When he steps on the mound to take on the Cubs for the third time this season on Wednesday, he'll look to get some of the magic back that escaped him in his last start.
Leake earned his first two wins of the season against the Cubs, allowing a pair of runs in each start. Chicago has been able to do some damage against Leake, registering eight hits on April 22 and nine more on May 3, but the 25-year-old right-hander has been able to limit the damage in each meeting.
In 12 career starts against the Cubs, Leake is 5-2 with a 3.44 ERA, despite allowing eight home runs, tied for the most he's given up to any one team.
Cubs: Wood looks for first win vs. former team
Wood spent the first two years of his Major League career in Cincinnati. On Wednesday, he'll try to beat his former club for the first time since being traded to the Cubs in December 2011.
In four career starts against the Reds, Wood is 0-2 with a 5.25 ERA. Two of those outings came this year, and although the end results were the same, his performances were vastly different in each start. In late April, Wood held Cincinnati to two runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings before the bullpen faltered in an extra-inning loss. More recently, Wood made it through 5 2/3 innings against the Reds on May 25, giving up five earned runs on seven hits and three walks.
Overall this season, Wood has been better than his 5-4 record, posting a 2.65 ERA. The 26-year-old left-hander delivered his 11th quality start in 12 outings on Friday, giving up just one run in six innings of work in a 5-4 loss to the Pirates.
• Reds third baseman Todd Frazier has two home runs since April 24, and both have come against the Cubs.
• With a hit on Tuesday, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has reached base safely in 15 straight games, setting a career high.
• Joey Votto's home run on Tuesday, his 11th, broke a second-place tie with Rizzo and the Nationals' Adam Laroche for most by an NL first baseman this season.
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.