MLB: Reds put season-best win streak on line vs. Cubs

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The Cincinnati Reds are on a season-best six-game winning streak while the visiting Chicago Cubs are battling a prolonged slump as the teams prepare to meet again on Saturday.

The Reds have taken the first two games of the four-game series. On Friday, Cincinnati earned a 3-2 victory that featured a two-run, two-out double from Tyler Stephenson in the fourth inning and six innings of one-run pitching from Nick Lodolo.

Alexis Diaz allowed a run in the ninth but escaped to post his 13th save in 15 chances when he struck out Patrick Wisdom with the tying run on second base.

“Might as well make it interesting,” Stephenson said. “Diaz did a good job getting out of it. (Pitching coach Derek Johnson) had a good visit and Alexis made a really good pitch to Wisdom. It’s another (win), so we’ll take it.”

Stephenson also noted after the game the key contribution of rookie Blake Dunn, who doubled for his first major league hit in the fifth and scored on a Stuart Fairchild single.

“That’s what we’ve been all about, really the past year,” Stephenson said. “So proud of him for coming in, make the statement there and then still come in and get that run. It was all around a great effort.”

The Cubs come into the Saturday game having lost 11 of 15 and reeling from a pair of injuries to regular players.

Second baseman Nico Hoerner was termed day-to-day with a right hand injury by Cubs manager Craig Counsell.

Hoerner was out of the lineup on Friday, a day after being hit on the outside of the hand by a 96 mph fastball from Reds righty Hunter Greene in the fourth inning of Chicago’s 8-4 loss.

Counsell said X-rays on Hoerner’s hand came back “somewhat inconclusive,” adding that the second baseman was set to undergo further testing.

Hoerner said before the Friday game that he was having trouble gripping a bat.

“I was able to finish the game (Thursday),” Hoerner said. “That’s always a good sign. I was feeling optimistic about that, but it’s sore today and I just wasn’t able to swing how I wanted to, obviously, to play a game today, so we’re just going from there.”

Hoerner wound up appearing as a ninth-inning pinch runner on Friday, three innings after the Cubs lost right fielder Seiya Suzuki to a lower left back injury. Suzuki was hit by a throw from Cincinnati catcher Stephenson in the first inning, then took an awkward swing in the third before later exiting the contest.

Jordan Wicks was activated from 15-day injured list on Friday and added to the Chicago bullpen. The 24-year-old left-hander returned from a left forearm strain.

“We don’t have a rotation need right now,” Counsell said. “If one comes up, he’s obviously a big candidate for it, but we don’t have one right now, so he’ll be in the bullpen for the time being.”

The Reds will send Andrew Abbott (4-5, 3.39 ERA) to the mound on Saturday. The left-hander allowed three runs and seven hits over six innings in a 13-3 win at Colorado on Monday.

Abbott has no record in two previous career starts against the Cubs, having allowed five runs and nine hits over 9 2/3 innings.

The Cubs will counter with right-hander Ben Brown (1-2, 3.33). Brown allowed five runs on six hits over five innings on Sunday in a 5-2 loss to the Reds, his first career start against the Reds.

–Field Level Media

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