Chicago Cubs (38-48) at Cincinnati Reds (45-42), 7:10 p.m. (ET)


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( - It's one slugger in, one slugger out for the Cincinnati Reds.

Just as outfielder Jay Bruce showed signs of emerging from a prolonged slump, first baseman Joey Votto will be unavailable as the Reds host the Chicago Cubs on Monday night to begin a five-games-in-four-days series at Wrigley Field.

The teams will play single games Monday, Wednesday and Thursday around a Tuesday doubleheader.

Bruce was a career-worst 0-for-26 before a decisive home run in the Reds' 4-2 win over Milwaukee on Sunday, which moved them within six games of the front- running Brewers in a crowded National League Central Division race.

It was his first home run since June 21.

Votto, meanwhile, appears headed for some shelf time as his own slump has extended to 6-for-37 and he didn't play Sunday. He missed three weeks with a left quadriceps injury earlier in the season and is being hampered by the same malady these days.

"He's got some challenges, physically," manager Bryan Price said. "We knew the process when we initially put Joey on the disabled list that when we got him back, we weren't going to be able to get him to 100 percent over the course of the regular season."

Right-hander Mike Leake takes the mound for the Reds after a three-start win streak was ended with an 8-2 loss at San Diego in his most recent outing on Tuesday.

After allowing two runs in 16 innings over two victories, Leake was dinged by the Padres for three runs and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Still, he's 7-2 in his career against the Cubs and has won three straight against them while compiling a 1.40 earned run average in those games.

Veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson goes for Chicago while coming off an impressive no-decision outing in which he allowed a run and six hits in six innings at Boston on Tuesday.

He'd won three in a row against the Reds before dropping a 4-1 decision on June 25.

On Sunday in Washington, Ryan Zimmerman's RBI single in the eighth inning gave the Nationals a 2-1 win over the Cubs.

Denard Span legged out a double after poking one down the right field line to lead off the home eighth against Pedro Strop (1-4). Strop retired the next two batters and intentionally walked Adam LaRoche to set up a force at any base, but Zimmerman made him pay by lacing a single to left. LaRoche was tagged out trying for third to end the inning, but Span had already crossed the plate.

Cincinnati has won five of its eight meetings with the Cubs this season..

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