The Reds will hope that trend continues as they begin a 10-game trip there Friday against the Cubs, who will look to end an 18-inning scoreless drought.Cincinnati (6-9) has made itself at home in the "Friendly Confines" over the last two years, winning 15 of the last 16 there and 17 of 20 since the start of the 2012 season.Joey Votto, Todd Frazier, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce and Zack Cozart have combined for 10 homers, 27 doubles and 60 RBIs in the Reds' last 20 games at Wrigley. Cincinnati won 14 of 19 overall meetings with the Cubs in 2013.Chicago (4-10) had a day off to recover from being blanked in both games of Wednesday's doubleheader at the New York Yankees. The last time the Cubs were shut out in both games of a doubleheader was on June 27, 1962, by St. Louis."We battled, and you've got to give credit to the pitching staff," said Emilio Bonifacio, who was 0 for 8 on the day. "They did a good job."The Cubs have dropped a season-high four straight as they hand the ball to Jeff Samardzija (0-1, 1.29 ERA), who is 1/3 with a 4.68 ERA as a starter against the Reds. Frazier is hitting .375 against the right-hander, who has limited Phillips to a .207 average and Votto to .240.Chicago has given Samardzija three runs of total support in his three starts."We could use a nice outing from Jeff to stop this roll a little bit, but the reality is that we have to grind out good at bats and get some timely hitting," manager Rick Renteria told the Cubs' official website. "I know they are all cliches, but we need to drive in some runs. It's just a matter of staying within ourselves and not trying to do too much. Hopefully, we can get that started at home."Renteria is probably hoping to see Anthony Rizzo, who is hitting .333, and Starlin Castro, who is at .298, carry the load. Rizzo, however, is a career .193 hitter against the Reds while Castro batted .177 with more strikeouts (16) than hits (14) in the 2013 season series.None of the Cubs have more than six at-bats against scheduled starter Alfredo Simon (1-1, 1.20), a converted reliever who has pitched well in two outings. The right-hander gave up one run in eight innings Saturday in a 1-0 home loss to Tampa Bay.Like Samardzija, Simon has received paltry support with a total of two runs.Cincinnati's offense has shown signs of life in totaling 30 runs with 10 homers while winning three of four. Votto has homered three times and driven in seven runs in that span, and Frazier has gone deep twice.The Reds enter after capturing their first series, winning 4-0 over Pittsburgh on Wednesday to take two of three from the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last year."For us to come together the way we have, especially against the team that beat us in the playoffs, it's a lot of fun," Frazier said.
Jeff Samardzija struck batters out in 54 percent of the plate appearances that he ended with a splitter last season. Samardzija threw the pitch 546 times in 2013, which was third-most in MLB. Joey Votto struggled against the pitch in 2013, going just 4-for-16 with eight strikeouts (thirrd-most in MLB).
Emilio Bonifacio took baseball by storm at the start of this season, batting an MLB-high .500 in his 1st 8 games (through April 9). Including his 1 hit today, Bonifacio has 2 hits since then.