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Chicago at Cincinnati

Venue: Great American Ball Park
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The Cincinnati Reds appeared to have a prime opportunity to keep driving toward the NL Central lead with a series against the lowly Chicago Cubs.

Instead, the Reds will be seeking to avoid their first home sweep to the Cubs in 12 years Wednesday, and Mike Leake will try to help with another strong outing against Chicago.

Heading into this three-game set, Cincinnati (82-64) had taken six of seven against Central leader St. Louis and the West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers. The Reds had also won 22 of 26 over the Cubs (62-82) but have been outscored 11-1 in the first two games.

Chicago hasn't won three in a row since July and hasn't swept a series in Cincinnati since May 28-30, 2001.

"I don't know if you can call it a letdown. I don't know if you call it not focused. I don't know if you call it not enough energy. I don't know if you call it those guys came in to play spoilers," outfielder Ryan Ludwick said. "I don't think anyone wanted to lose two to the Cubs. They're a major league team, but they're in last place, and we're trying to chase down a couple of teams in front of us."

The Reds were held scoreless in the first 15 innings of this series until Corky Miller's RBI double in the seventh of Tuesday's 9-1 defeat. Welington Castillo hit two homers and Donnie Murphy drove in three runs as Chicago recorded back-to-back wins in Cincinnati for the first time in two years.

The Reds were within 1 1/2 games of St. Louis in the NL Central and tied with Pittsburgh for second before this series. They're now three games behind the Cardinals and two back of the Pirates.

Leake (12-6, 3.46 ERA) will try to get his club's playoff push back on track by improving on his 2-0 record and 2.18 ERA in three matchups with Chicago this season. He gave up one run and three hits over eight innings to win the most recent one, 2-1 on June 12.

The right-hander heads into this outing after beating the Dodgers on Friday, yielding two runs in 7 2-3 innings of a 3-2 victory. He had given up at least four runs in each of his previous four starts and was 0-1 with a 9.28 ERA in the last two.

Leake is 3-0 with a 2.21 ERA in five career home starts against Chicago and will pitch opposite a struggling Jeff Samardzija in this one.

Samardzija (8-11, 4.29) has given up a combined 11 runs and 17 hits, including three homers, in 12 2-3 innings over his last two starts. He didn't receive a decision either time.

"My baseball command has been spotty," Samardzija told the team's website. "It needs to be better."

The right-hander has a 6.75 ERA in his last two starts against the Reds - both in Chicago - but also avoided decisions in those games. Samardzija performed better in his only start in Cincinnati this season, giving up two runs - one earned - and four hits over six innings May 4, but the Cubs bullpen couldn't hold a two-run lead in a 6-4 defeat.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Probable Starters

Jeff Samardzija, RHP
2013 stats
189.0 Innings Pitched 177.0
8-11 Wins-Losses 12-6
4.29 Earned Run Average 3.46
69 Walks 42
190 Strikeouts 108
105 Pitches Per Start 94
Career vs. opponent
51.0 Innings Pitched 89.0
1-2 Wins-Losses 6-2
4.41 Earned Run Average 3.24

Mike Leake, RHP
Weather
weather image  Showers late. Morning clouds. Warm.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
88°F70°F8mph/SW60%53%
Standings
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Chi Cubs5th NL Central3852.42213 ½ 4-6 L 6
Cincinnati2nd NL Central4942.53836-4 W 5
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Mike Leake
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Schierholtz168116.500
Valbuena146011.429
Rizzo146012.429
Barney269001.346
Sweeney62001.333
 
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Jeff Samardzija
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Heisey73001.429
Latos52002.400
Frazier145232.357
Mesoraco62000.333
Choo103142.300
 

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Injuries
Chi Cubs
PlayerInjury
E. BonifacioOblique
K. FujikawaForearm
J. McDonaldShoulder
Cincinnati
PlayerInjury
T. BellElbow
J. HannahanShoulder
S. MarshallShoulder
J. VottoQuadriceps
 
Series Game Log
DateatResult/TimeWinnerLoser
Apr 18CHCCIN 4-1Simon Samardzija 
Apr 19CHCCHC 8-4Jackson Cingrani 
Apr 20CHCCIN 8-2Bailey Villanueva 
Apr 28CINPPD   
Apr 29CINCIN 3-2Simon Samardzija 
Apr 30CINCHC 9-4Jackson Christiani 
Jun 23CHCCIN 6-1Broxton Rondon 
Jun 24CHCCHC 7-3Arrieta Bailey 
Jun 25CHCCIN 4-1Latos Jackson 
Jul 7CINCIN 9-3Leake Jackson 
Jul 8CINCIN 4-2Cueto Wood 
Jul 8CINCIN 6-5Ondrusek Rondon 
Jul 9CINCIN 4-1  
Jul 10CIN12:35 PM EDT  
Aug 26CIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Aug 27CIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Aug 28CIN12:35 PM EDT  
Sep 15CHC 8:05 PM EDT  
Sep 16CHC 8:05 PM EDT  
Sep 17CHC 8:05 PM EDT