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Mesoraco ties club record, homers in five straight

Devin Mesoraco could make history on Wednesday.

Cincinnati's catcher has homered in five straight games, and he has a chance to tie the all-time record for big league catchers by going deep against the Cubs. Mesoraco has already tied the Reds' team record, which had been done five times previously.

Mesoraco, just 26 years old, is already in the midst of a career season. The former first-round draftee has set a career high with 14 homers in just 43 games, and he's two RBIs shy of setting a new personal best. But he'll be chasing something different in the Friendly Confines as he looks to match Walker Cooper, who holds the all-time mark for catchers as the only one to have homered in six straight games. And MLB.com will provide live look-ins of Mesoraco's at-bats on Wednesday to see if he can do just that.

Cooper, who caught for the New York Giants, accomplished his feat in 1947. Two other catchers -- Buster Posey and A.J. Pierzynski -- went deep in five straight games. With his five straight power-packed games, Mesoraco joined Adam Dunn (2008), Ken Griffey Jr. (2003), Johnny Bench (1972), George Crowe (1957) and Ted Kluszewski (1954) as Reds who've homered in five straight games.

"I think that the coolest thing, is just the company that that puts me with," Mesoraco said. "Those guys were incredible hitters, and for my name to be mentioned in the same breath as those guys, that's pretty cool."

Mat Latos will take the ball for Cincinnati. The start will be the right-hander's third of the season after missing the first two-and-a-half months recovering from right elbow and left knee surgeries, as well as a strained right forearm.

Over his first two starts -- both no-decisions -- Latos has posted a 3.86 ERA, but with varying results. He was very good in his first outing, tossing six shutout innings against the Brewers in Milwaukee on June 14, but he surrendered five runs on nine hits over 5 2/3 frames against the Blue Jays last Friday.

"I felt better making my rehab starts than I have in the two starts I've had in the Major Leagues so far," Latos said on Tuesday. "It was a pain-in-the-[butt] process, but you've got to go through it and you've got to do what you've got to do."

Veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson will take the mound for the Cubs. Jackson has struggled this season, but most of his problems have come on the road. Away from the Friendly Confines, he's posted a 1-6 record with a 6.70 ERA. But at Wrigley, he is 4-1 with a 3.48 ERA.

In his most recent start, a home outing against the Pirates last Friday, Jackson tossed four scoreless innings before giving up three runs in the fifth and departing after 86 pitches due to cramping in both of his calves.

"Honestly, I felt like they had no chance," Jackson said of Pittsburgh hitters after that game. "That was just the mind frame I was in. ... The way I was able to get in a rhythm with [catcher John] Baker and really being able to command the strike zone, mixing it up, I felt like I was going to go pretty deep in that game."

Chicago hopes Jackson can carry that rhythm over to Wednesday's start, as the Cubs try to become the first NL Central team to hand Cincinnati a series loss in 2014.

Reds: Phillips still day to day with bruised heel
Second baseman Brandon Phillips missed his second consecutive game on Tuesday due to a bruised right heel. He sustained the bruise when his bat hit the heel on a backswing during an at-bat in Sunday's game against the Blue Jays.

Phillips resumed some baseball activities on Tuesday, and manager Bryan Price hinted that he would have made Phillips a late addition to the lineup if he felt up to it.

Skip Schumaker once again took Phillips' place at second base. Price said Schumaker, who also plays in the outfield, was a valuable offseason acquisition for situations like these.

"He just has the type of fight and intensity that you want, and other guys can feed off that," Price said. "He's a great example-setter for how we want to do things, and his flexibility is key."

Cubs: Castro enjoying success as cleanup hitter
Shortstop Starlin Castro didn't expect to be put into the cleanup spot of the Cubs' batting order when he opened the 2014 season, but even though he has typically hit second throughout his career, he's performed extremely well in the No. 4 spot.

Castro, who was slotted into the cleanup spot on April 25 and has been there ever since, is batting .284 with 23 doubles, 11 home runs and 44 RBIs, already equaling his RBI total from last season.

"It's not that I think Starlin is a prototypical fourth hitter," manager Rick Renteria said on Tuesday, "but based on the guys I had and how we use them, he ended up filling that slot for us."

Worth Noting
• Cubs hitters haven't had much success against Latos. Castro is 6-for-25 (.240) with five strikeouts in his career against the right-hander. First baseman Anthony Rizzo is 2-for-12 (.167). Right fielder Nate Schierholtz is 6-for-30 (.200) with six strikeouts. Second baseman Darwin Barney is 1-for-15 (.067) with four strikeouts.

• Several Reds have had success in their careers against Jackson. Center fielder Billy Hamilton is 3-for-7 (.429) against the right-hander. Third baseman Todd Frazier is 4-for-12 (.333) with a double and four RBIs. First baseman Joey Votto is 8-for-21 (.381) with three doubles, two homers and two RBIs. Catcher Brayan Pena is 5-for-11 (.455) with a double, two homers and three RBIs.

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