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A Weekend That Could Cure The Cubs' Hitting Woes: Cubs vs. Reds Preview, Friday 7/24, 1:20 CT

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When the Cubs last saw the Reds, from June 5-7 in Cincinnati, the Reds were right behind the Cubs in the NL Central standings and some people were still saying they'd be contenders.

The Cubs took two of three in that June series and since June 7 the Reds are 15-23, including a 7-12 July record in which they have scored 63 runs and allowed 113 in the 19 games played. The three pitchers scheduled to start this weekend for the Reds (Aaron Harang, Johnny Cueto and Micah Owings) have a combined 8.68 ERA during July. So, this would be a real good time to get Cubs bats going, continuing what they began on the road trip just completed. Despite scoring only one run in each of the first two games in Philadelphia, the Cubs scored 38 runs in seven games (5.43 per game) on the road trip and scored ten or more runs twice. They are averaging 4.52 runs per game for the 19 games so far in July and have posted a 12-7 record this month.

Ryan Dempster's recovery is going well, but he won't start this weekend. Instead, Bruce Miles tells us, he'll go on a running program and could be slotted in vs. the Astros next Thursday. Kevin Hart will make one more start (Sunday) before Dempster's return.

Will Lou return in 2010? Here's an interesting take from the Sun-Times, which includes comments from former Cubs managers Dusty Baker and Jim Riggleman on how difficult it can be to manage the Cubs even when they're winning.

And, here are a few notes from Dave van Dyck on whether the Cubs will make any moves before the trading deadline and what those moves might be.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Randy Wells
Randy Wells
Cubs
vs. Aaron Harang
Aaron Harang
Reds
5-4 W-L 5-10
3.00 ERA 4.17
54 SO 104
18 BB 29
7 HR 17
vs. Cin -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Randy Wells 5-4 13 13 0 0 0 0 81.0 75 28 27 7 18 54 3.00 1.15


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Aaron Harang 5-10 20 20 2 1 0 0 121.0 143 62 56 17 29 104 4.17 1.42

Aaron Harang looks kind of sad in that photo. He should, if he's thinking about the Cubs; he's 9-6 lifetime vs. the Cubs, but with a 4.55 ERA. He did throw a nice game vs. the Cubs on April 23 at Wrigley Field, allowing seven hits and an unearned run. Derrek Lee has homered five times off him (in 49 career AB) and Aramis Ramirez has three HR off Harang (in 43 AB).

Randy Wells threw 6.2 good innings vs. the Reds in Cincinnati on June 7, but he was long gone by the time the Cubs won that game in 14 innings. He gave up six hits -- two doubles and four singles -- and two runs. A sobering reminder of how fluid the Cubs' pitching staff has been this year can be found in that boxscore -- three pitchers who were in that game (Jose Ascanio, Jason Waddell and David Patton) are no longer on the 25-man roster.

The Cubs are back on cable today, CSN Chicago and FSN Ohio. For other games today see the MLB.com Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Reds site Red Reporter. In fact, yesterday they had a detailed post analyzing today's starter, Aaron Harang.

Overflow comment threads will post today at 2:15 pm, 3:15 pm and 4 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.