Darvish (2-4, 4.72 ERA) has not earned a win since April 27. He followed that outing with 10 straight no-decisions, which marked a franchise record, before taking a loss June 26 and then drawing two more no-decisions.
Despite his lack of victories, Darvish has impressed Cubs manager Joe Maddon. The right-hander asked to start the first game after the All-Star break and delivered with six scoreless innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"He was really wanting to do this," Maddon told reporters after Darvish's most recent outing Friday afternoon. "He is really getting very comfortable in his Chicago Cubs skin. He is just a different cat, and the way he gets ready is different. He is so much more comfortable than he was at any time last year."
The Cubs also are feeling more comfortable after a dramatic 4-3 win Tuesday night to even the series at one victory apiece. The game went to 10 innings before Kyle Schwarber lifted a walk-off homer into the basket atop the left field wall.
It was Schwarber's 21st homer of the season and his third in as many games.
Reds right-hander Sonny Gray (5-5, 3.42 ERA) will try to cool down Schwarber and the rest of the talented Chicago lineup. Gray has notched three consecutive quality starts and has given up only one run over his past 15 innings.
The 29-year-old Vanderbilt product is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in three career starts against the Cubs.
The Reds have a powerful offense, as well, with Eugenio Suarez (23 homers) and Yasiel Puig (22) leading the way. Suarez has homered in back-to-back games, with both of his blasts coming in the top of the first inning.
The jovial slugger dedicated his latest home run to Fox Sports Ohio play-by-play man Jim Day on Tuesday night.
"Hey Jim Day, listen, that was for you," Suarez said after grabbing a microphone from a Fox Sports Ohio reporter who was stationed near the dugout. "I just want to make your day, Jim Day. I hope you like that one. That was for you and the Cincinnati Reds fans."
Suarez has hit 12 homers on the road and 11 at home.
Darvish has been vulnerable to the long ball this season, serving up 20 homers in 19 starts. However, his teammates are confident that he can build upon his impressive start following the All-Star break.
"He looked like he was in total control," Kris Bryant told reporters after Darvish's most recent performance. "He knew what pitches he wanted to throw and was very deliberate. He was making all of his pitches. We are going to see a lot of that in the second half."
In five career starts against the Reds, Darvish is 2-0 with a 3.48 ERA.
--Field Level Media