While the Pirates and Cardinals duke it out this week, the Reds are using their games against the Cubs to inch closer to their National League Central foes.
On Wednesday, Cincinnati will have to solve Chicago southpaw Chris Rusin, who blanked St. Louis over six frames in his last outing. In five starts this season, the 26-year-old has posted a 2-1 record and a 3.08 ERA.
"With him, when he throws strikes, he's able to get back in the count with a strike and throw a quality pitch to get back in the count," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "His ball can move so much, he gets some swings and misses at balls quite a way out of the zone. He makes the ball move and keeps the ball down."
Outfielder Ryan Ludwick is expected to return to the Reds' lineup after having Tuesday off. On Monday, Ludwick played in his first game since Opening Day, when he injured his shoulder and needed surgery.
Reds skipper Dusty Baker elected to rest Ludwick on Tuesday given the quick turnaround for Wednesday's matinee. The veteran outfielder reported no physical issues after going 0-for-3 in Monday's win.
"It was probably the happiest 0-for-3 I've had in my life. Riding back on the bus and just being out there," Ludwick said. "When you're out four months, you realize how much you miss the game. I want to do everything I can to stay in the best possible shape as I can to make this thing last as long as possible."
Ludwick said he understands that there will be questions about the strength of his shoulder as he works his way back into everyday playing shape.
"There's going to be a lot of people questioning, 'Where is his power?'" Ludwick said. "Well, if you saw me taking [batting practice] at home the other day, the power is there. It's just consistency. It's tough."
Right-hander Bronson Arroyo (10-9, 3.51 ERA) is slated to take the hill for the Reds in Wednesday's series finale.
Reds: Arroyo eyeing second straight strong start
Arroyo rebounded from perhaps his worst showing of the season on Aug. 2 to submit one of his strongest efforts of the year last Friday. After surrendering seven runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings in a 13-3 loss to the Cardinals, Arroyo limited the Padres to one run on four hits over seven frames in a 7-2 win.
"I got off to a good start the first four innings," Arroyo said after earning his 10th victory of the season. "It kind of set a nice tone and we scored at least a couple of runs to give me a bit of a cushion."
• The Reds re-signed lefty pitcher Zach Duke, who will report to Triple-A Louisville. Duke had been released from Louisville on Aug. 3.
Cubs: Soler likely out for the year
Jorge Soler, the organization's No. 3 prospect, is likely finished for the season, though he could still play in the Arizona Fall League. Soler has been shelved since June 14 with a stress fracture in his left tibia.
"The Fall League is still very much a possibility," said Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations. "The Minor League season is looking like it might not happen at this point."
Soler was hitting .281 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs in 55 games for Class A Daytona.
• The Cubs sport the NL's worst home record at 23-35.