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OAK@CIN: Latos holds A's scoreless, fans three

The Dodgers and Cardinals recently rearranged their rotations to preserve their aces for an opponent tougher than the fourth-place Cubs.

The Reds will not be following that trend. Cincinnati will unleash its big guns against Chicago in Monday's series opener at Wrigley Field.

Mat Latos (11-3, 3.21 ERA), who averages a strikeout per inning and has been the Reds' most reliable starter this season, will take the hill. In addition, the club will welcome back outfielder Ryan Ludwick, who has not played since Opening Day as a result of surgery on his injured right shoulder.

The Reds could use Ludwick's bat, should the 35-year-old revert to his form from last season, when he batted .275 with 26 home runs and 80 RBIs. The Reds' offense has been scuffling. Dusty Baker's bunch has scored only 42 runs over its last 14 games, an average of three runs per contest.

"I'm a guy who notoriously has hit doubles, home runs and driven in runs," Ludwick said. "That's what I want to do. If I can't do that, it's going to be tough. I want to help the team win, and people are expecting me to come in and be in midseason form and hit 10-15 home runs the last two months.

"Realistically, I'm not thinking about that. I'm thinking about taking productive at-bats, whether it's taking a walk, hitting a single, double or home run, swinging at strikes, letting the balls go by. That's what I'm dealing with now: strike zone judgment and recognizing pitches out of the hand. Hopefully the sooner that comes, the sooner I can get back to old form."

The Cubs will be up for the challenge. Manager Dale Sveum said the team took the pitching shuffles personally.

"You take anything like that personal," Sveum said. "Obviously, they're doing what they need to be doing, being in the pennant race. But the guys in that locker room take it to heart. They're saying we're not a very good team and we're going to get by you with this guy or that guy. It's the competitive nature in anybody to take that to heart."

The Cubs will trot out lefty Travis Wood (7-8, 3.04 ERA). Ludwick said he is ready for the All-Star.

"I already see him in my head," Ludwick said. "I know exactly what his ball is going to do. I know how he pitches me and how he attacks me."

Reds: Ludwick not worried about rehab numbers
Ludwick only registered six hits in 44 at-bats during his 13-game Minor League rehab assignment, but he isn't overly concerned and he said his surgically-repaired shoulder feels strong.

"At the plate, it's been tougher than I thought, to be honest with you," Ludwick said. "Breaking it down, I hit for two and a half months before I go to Spring Training. Then you have all camp to get ready and everyone is starting on an even playing field. I hit for a week and a half and got thrown right in the fire with everybody in midseason form. The timing of the game has been tough. But I felt like it got better little by little.

"My shoulder and body feel really good. My swing was long at times. I made a diving play headfirst, which I wasn't supposed to do, but it was kind of instinct. I got through that test."

Cubs: Wood seeking eighth win
Wood has only two wins to his credit since the start of June, despite a 3.33 ERA in 12 starts during that span. Wood, who was named to his first All-Star Game this season, sports a 2-5 record in that stretch and the Cubs have won only three of the 12 contests.

• Second baseman Darwin Barney logged a pair of RBI singles in Sunday's contest against the Cardinals. He raised his average to .215.

"He's gotten some big hits for us," Sveum said. "He's just a guy who you know is going to battle and [against a pitcher with] velocity, he'll put it in play and give you a great at-bat."

Worth noting
• The Reds have won six of seven at Wrigley Field this season, and 12 of 13 dating back to 2012. Cincinnati has won nine of its last 11 games against the Cubs and 19 of its last 23 against its National League Central foe since the start of last season.

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