The Reds may have a couple of players struggling at the plate, but something will have to give when they come up against Edwin Jackson on Sunday, with the right-hander still searching for his first win of the year and coming off what he called "one of the worst starts of his career."
Jackson's last outing resulted in a season-high 13 runs and 17 hits for the visiting Padres at Wrigley Field, who routed Jackson and the Cubs, 13-7. Now, the Reds -- who secured their first road series victory of the season on Saturday -- get their shot at Jackson.
"It's a test of character," Jackson said after his last outing. "Clearly, it hasn't been what I wanted to do. It's a long season. I'll definitely continue to work and get back to where I need to be to finish the season strong."
The righty is 0-4 with a 6.27 ERA this season. But a handful of Reds hitters he'll be facing on Sunday -- regulars Zack Cozart, Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier are all hitting below .260 -- have endured some troubles, too.
"We've got quite a few guys struggling," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "They're either struggling with not getting hits or not getting hits with runners in scoring position, or struggling with home runs. We're in pretty good position considering the guys that are struggling. They're not going to struggle forever."
Cincinnati will need a few guys to pull through if they are to earn their first road sweep of the young season. With Saturday's 6-4 win, they secured their first series win away from Great American Ball Park. The Reds are still just 5-10 away from home.
The Cubs are 5-9 at Wrigley Field this season, where Jackson also faced San Diego this week. He signed a four-year, $52-million contract before this season, but insists the pressure of that deal has not weighed on him during his early-season struggles.
"I don't feel like it's pressure," Jackson said. "I feel like I'm just not pitching like I know I can pitch, whether it's execution of pitches, or making people hit the ball where there are fielders. It's been one thing or another. It hasn't been one particular thing."
Cubs fans weren't happy with Jackson's outing against San Diego and let him know.
"It's not the first time I've heard it," Jackson said. "It's the same crowd if you go out and start pitching better, they're cheering. The boos, I'd probably boo myself, as well. I don't blame them."
Reds: Latos riding high
Jackson's opponent on Sunday, Reds' right-hander Mat Latos, has been solid to start the season and will take a 17-innings scoreless streak into Sunday's series finale.
Latos came out of his last outing after six scoreless innings and 91 pitches because he felt some tightness in his right hip. But Latos said Friday that he will be ready for Sunday's outing.
"It feels good," Latos said. "I've been throwing and doing my running and lifting with bands to not put any pressure on it, just to be sure. But it's been fine."
Latos is the first Reds pitcher to throw quality starts in each of his first six appearances since Mario Soto did it in 1985. No Cincinnati pitcher has pitched seven quality starts to begin the season since Joe Price had eight straight to start the 1983 campaign.
Cubs: DeJesus catching up
David DeJesus is hitting .333 with six doubles, a triple, four home runs and eight RBIs in 21 games since April 9.
He began the season with a .095 average (2-for-21) after his first seven games.
• The Cubs have lost nine games this year in which they were leading at some point.
• Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco is expected to be back behind the plate on Sunday after Corky Miller started Friday and Saturday.
• The Cubs are in the middle of their first four-team homestand since Aug. 25-Sept. 3, 2009.
• With a home run off Jeff Samardzija on the first pitch of Saturday's game, Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo has seven career leadoff home runs.