The Reds are playing their best baseball of the season heading into a three-game series at home against the Cubs that begins Monday.
Cincinnati has won six of seven games to open a nine-game homestand. The Reds lead the National League Central with 106 runs in 19 games, and have done so without a single home run from outfielder Jay Bruce.
Bruce is hitting .275 with six doubles and eight RBIs, but has yet to leave the yard. Joey Votto's homers are down, but the slugger belted his third shot of the season during Sunday's 10-6 win against the Marlins, and manager Dusty Baker wouldn't mind seeing Bruce follow suit.
"Now we have to get Bruce going with a couple of home runs and some RBIs," Baker said. "Jay is in that position where he gets a lot of opportunities, probably as much as anybody in this league. The guys hitting in front of him are on base."
The Cubs have yet to face the Reds this season, but manager Dale Sveum knows his club will have to play well in Cincinnati to end its three-game losing streak.
"They're a solid team, lineup, pitching, their bullpen lines up pretty well, too," Sveum said of the division-rival Reds. "We're going into a place where we have to play clean baseball to beat those guys."
Travis Wood will start for the Cubs against his former team. In three starts this year, Wood is 1-1 with a 1.83 ERA. He last pitched for the Reds in 2011, and lost his spot in the rotation to Mike Leake, who will take the mound Monday.
Leake was sensational in his last outing, tossing seven scoreless innings and getting three hits of his own to beat the Phillies. The right-hander struggled in two previous outings, though, and allowed nine runs on 16 hits over 12 innings to begin the season.
Chicago was swept by Milwaukee during a three-game series over the weekend to begin a 10-game road trip. The Cubs have lost six of their last seven games and are last in the division.
Cubs: Castro extends streak
Starlin Castro has been a bright spot for the Cubs this season, and the shortstop extended his hitting streak to 13 games on Sunday with a single to center in the third inning of a 4-2 loss. It's the longest active streak in the NL.
Castro now has eight hitting streaks of at least 10 games since the start of the 2011 season, tied with Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano for the most during that period. Castro's 550 hits since he debuted in the Majors on May 7, 2010, are the most in the NL during that stretch.
Castro went 1-for-4 Sunday and is hitting .301 this season, with two homers, six RBIs and nine runs. During his 13-game hit streak, Castro is 19-for-57 (.333) with four doubles and one triple.
Castro has a good chance to extend his streak on Monday. In his career against Leake, Castro is 11-for-28 (.393) with five RBIs.
Reds: Mesoraco sees role expand
Devin Mesoraco is expected to become the regular catcher with Ryan Hanigan on the disabled list due to a strained left oblique. Hanigan was placed on the DL on Sunday.
Mesoraco started Sunday and went 1-for-5 with an RBI single and a run. He's hit in four of his last five games and is hitting .259 this season. In 54 games as a rookie in 2012, Mesoraco hit .212.
"You definitely don't want to see Hani hurt, because he means a lot to the team," Mesoraco said. "But I always felt, and still feel like, I'm an everyday player. If that's what comes of this, I'll jump right in and take care of business."
• Cincinnati's Todd Frazier is 4-for-5 with a homer in his career against Wood.
• The Cubs have not won a road game since April 4 at Pittsburgh.