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Not that long ago Youth Pernell McPhee Jersey , the Chicago Cubs probably viewed a series against the Cincinnati Reds as a near-guaranteed way to pick up some quick victories and gain some ground in the National League Central standings.

Those days have changed. And so is the Cubs-Reds rivalry.

The Cubs couldn’t hold a multi-run lead for the second straight night, and the Reds won their fifth in a row and eighth in 10 games — quite a run for a team that played .250 ball for the first month-plus of the season — by rallying for a 6-3 victory on Friday night.

Now, the Cubs are expected to ask their bullpen to carry them through the third game of the four-game series Saturday at Great American Ball Park — a series that isn’t going much like most of those Cubs-Reds matchups for the last four seasons.

Going into the series, the Cubs were 43-19 against the Reds since 2015, but the Reds are playing much differently now than they did when they were 8-27 on May 7. They’re 4-0 on their current homestand, even though they still remain well below .500 at 30-45.

“Even when we were losing, they (his veteran players) felt like, ‘We’re a good ballclub, we’re going to get our share (of wins),'” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “(When) we’re on a roll like this, they feel like we’re just going to keep going with it.”

Eugenio Suarez lifted his average to .304 by going 3-for-4 with a go-ahead two-run homer in the fifth inning off Jose Quintana (6-6) and Joey Votto had two hits and an RBI. Quintana gave up four runs and nine hits in five innings.

“We’re playing really good baseball,” Suarez said. “We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing — and keep winning. If we play like this, something good is going to happen.”

The Cubs scored three times against Reds starter Luis Castillo (5-8) in 5 2/3 innings — Kyle Schwarber hit a two-run homer in the fourth — but former Cleveland Indians pitcher Kyle Crockett pitched out of a two-on jam in the sixth in his Reds debut.

The Cubs managed only four hits in the game, David Hernandez pitched two scoreless innings and Raisel Iglesias finished in the ninth for his 12th save.

The Cincinnati bullpen has pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings in the series so far.

“That was one of the cleaner games we’re played — offensively, defensively, we ran the bases well … and got timely hits,” Riggleman said. “When you do that, you’re probably going to win.”

Now, the Reds have the improving Anthony DeSclafani (2-1) pitching Saturday. The right-hander missed the first two months of the season with an oblique injury after sitting out all of last season with an elbow injury, but he has won his last two starts while lowering his ERA from 7.60 to 4.20.

He’s 2-2 in seven career starts against the Cubs Youth Anthony Averett Jersey , and he handles Chicago cleanup hitter Anthony Rizzo (2-for-20, .100) especially well.

It’s expected to be a bullpen game for the Cubs, with former Reds pitcher Luke Farrell (2-2) making his first start of the season and only the second of his major league career. The longest he has pitched this season was five shutout relief innings during the Cubs’ 7-1, 14-inning victory over the New York Mets on June 2.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon stayed with his recent experiment of using slugger Kris Bryant as a leadoff hitter — he was 9-for-24 (.375) with three RBIs in that spot going into the game — but he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

“He gets on base a lot, he’s possibly one of the best baserunners on the team,” Maddon told reporters. “It’s one of those things — preconceived notions — that you get hung up on. But I like what he’s doing. When the bottom of the order has been productive, there’s a potential for a lot of baserunners in the one-hole.”

Only there wasn’t any such potential Friday as the Cubs’ No. 7-8-9 batters were a combined 0-for-9. It also didn’t help that Rizzo went 0-for-4 and stranded three runners.

And, now, suddenly the Cubs-Reds rivalry isn’t what it used to be.

On June 7, the Colorado Rockies were tied for first place in the National League West and riding high. In the week since, the Rockies have lost five straight games and come to the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Friday with as many questions as answers about themselves as the season heads into the dog days of summer.

Colorado begins a three-game interleague series with the Texas Rangers, a team also in search of answers, at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.

The Rockies will send right-hander Chad Bettis (4-1, 4.40 ERA) to the mound for the opening game and the Rangers will counter with Yohander Mendez (0-0, 0.00).

Colorado activated right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino from the disabled list Thursday, and manager Bud Black said Ottavino would go right back into his late-game role.

Ottavino had a 0.95 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings before going to the disabled with a left oblique injury. The team went 5-9 without him in the lineup.

“Otto feels that he wants to jump right back into the mix of pitching deep in the game,” Black told mlb.com. “He’s ready for that. He doesn’t necessarily want to ease back in. Physically, he made it a point of emphasis to get his body in the best shape possible in the offseason. The year before, it wasn’t the case.”

Ottavino did not see action in the Rockies’ 9-3 loss at Philadelphia but will be ready when Colorado takes on hapless Texas.

The Rangers will attempt to end a six-game losing streak that included a heartbreaking 3-2 loss in 11 innings in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

With one out and the bases loaded Youth Russell Bodine Jersey , the Dodgers‘ Austin Barnes dribbled what appeared to be a sure out at home in front of Rangers reliever Matt Bush. However, Bush’s throw to home for the force pulled catcher Carlos Perez off the plate, allowing Enrique Hernandez to score the deciding run.

Texas is now a season-worst 18 games back of the first-place Seattle Mariners and the Houston Astros in the American League West after suffering a two-game sweep by the Dodgers.

Bettis gave up three home runs and lasted just four innings in his last start, a home loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The good news is his velocity returned after a dip for three starts. He is a Lubbock, Texas, native who pitched at Texas Tech University.

Bettis will make his 14th start of the season and his eighth on the road. He has no-decisions and a 7.67 ERA in his past six starts since May 11.

Bettis has pitched against Texas only once, getting a no-decision on Aug. 11, 2016, in Arlington, a 12-9 Rockies win.

Mendez will make his first big league start Friday. In 10 minor league starts this season, he has an 0-6 record with a 5.26 ERA. In one relief appearance with the Rangers this year, he didn’t allow a run in two-thirds of an inning.

Mendez, who is ranked the Rangers’ seventh-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, has joined the ballclub from Triple-A Round Rock. He has been a September call-up for Texas each of the past two seasons, and featured with the Rangers earlier this season when he was called up May 3.

In 10 career major league appearances — all in relief — Mendez has posted a 0-1 record with a 7.31 ERA (13 earned runs in 16 innings).

“It’s going to be multiple starts,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said Wednesday about Mendez’s upcoming major league stint. “He’s going to have the opportunity to show us what he can do as a starter.

“We’re still in the business of winning baseball games,” Banister added. “It’s about development, but it is the big leagues, and you still develop and still give yourself the opportunity to win baseball games.”
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