Cubs come home searching for win against Reds

CHICAGO -- The reigning World Series champions are in a funk as they return to Wrigley Field on Tuesday to open their longest homestand of the season to date.

The Chicago Cubs (18-19) dropped the last two games of a three-game weekend series against the Cardinals. They are 2-6 in their past eight games and below .500 for the first time since an season-opening loss to St. Louis.

However, right-hander John Lackey (3-3, 4.29 ERA) may be just the guy to right the ship, and he starts the opener of a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday. Chicago's 10-game homestand also will include visits from Milwaukee and San Francisco.

The Reds send Bronson Arroyo (3-2, 5.94 ERA) to the mound on Tuesday.

Lackey makes his eighth start of the season (fourth at home) and is coming off his best outing of 2017.

On May 9 at Colorado, he allowed just four hits while striking out 10 in seven scoreless innings of an 8-1 Cubs victory. Lackey was only the second visiting pitcher in Coors Field history to strike out at least 10 batters in seven innings.

"He really picked us up when it was needed," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after that game. "We needed that kind of start. That's what we're used to getting, that kind of starting performance from our entire staff, so hopefully he's going to set the tone moving forward."

Lackey will make his 15th career start against Cincinnati. He is 5-5 with a 3.83 ERA in 14 games, and he allowed seven runs (five earned) in six innings of a 7-5 Cubs loss on April 23.

The Reds (19-18) are 7-8 on the road as they visit Wrigley Field for the first time this season. The Cubs took two of three between the teams April 21-23 at Great American Ball Park.

Cincinnati won the opener of a four-game weekend series at San Francisco, then lost the last three to the Giants.

Arroyo makes his eighth start of the year and 34th career appearance (32nd all-time start) against the Cubs. He is 14-11 with a 3.06 ERA vs. Chicago.

The 40-year-old right-hander allowed two runs in six innings in his no-decision his last time out, a 3-2 Reds win over the Giants last Thursday.

"It was the first time that I wanted to get back out after six innings, so I'm getting stronger," Arroyo said. "I'm just glad we pulled out the victory. The bullpen's been throwing fantastic."

Arroyo is 3-0 in his past five starts with a 4.44 ERA. He hasn't won four straight decisions since April 9-24, 2014.

Arroyo last pitched against the Cubs on April 23, getting his second win of the season with six innings of two-run ball. He is 8-4 with a 3.13 ERA against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Chicago is 7-9 at home so far after going 57-24 last year, but right-hander Jake Arrieta, the losing pitcher Sunday in St. Louis, said the Cubs will be all right.

"I don't think there's any reason to panic," he said. "The talent we have here will correct itself and start to turn itself around. ... Guys are showing up ready to play and going about themselves the right way. We're just not getting the results we'd like."
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