12:35 PM ET, September 11, 2013
Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio
Chicago: Samardzija (8-11, 4.29 ERA)
Cincinnati: Leake (12-6, 3.46 ERA)
The Cincinnati Reds seemed to have an excellent chance to keep driving toward the NL Central lead with a series versus the slumping Chicago Cubs.
On the contrary, tonight Cincinnati has to avoid their first home sweep versus Chicago and Mike Leake will try to help with another strong outing versus the Cubs.
Heading into this three-game set, the Reds (82-64) had taken six of seven versus Central leader St. Louis Cardinals and the West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers. Cincinnati had also won 22 of 26 versus Chicago (62-82) but have been outscored 11-1 in the first two MLB games.
The Cubs haven’t won three in a row since July and hasn’t swept a series in Cincinnati since May 28-30, 2001.
According to the MLB odds, the Big Red Machine was held scoreless in the first 15 innings of this series until Corky Miller’s RBI double in the seventh of Tuesday’s 9-1 loss. Welington Castillo hit two homers and Donnie Murphy drove in three runs as the Cubs recorded back-to-back victories in Cincinnati for the first time in two years.
Cincinnati was within 1 1/2 games of St. Louis in the NL Central and tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates for second before this series. They’re now three games behind St. Louis and two back of Pittsburgh.
Leake (12-6, 3.46 ERA) will try to get the Reds MLB playoff push back on track by improving on his 2-0 record and 2.18 ERA in three matchups with the Cubs this season. The right-hander gave up one run and three hits over eight innings to win the most recent one, 2-1 on June 12.
Starting for the Cubs will be Jeff Samardzija (8-11, 4.29) who has given up a combined 11 runs and 17 hits, including three homers, in 12 2/3 innings over his last two starts. The right-hander didn’t receive a decision either time.
The Indiana native has a 6.75 ERA in his last two starts versus Cincinnati — both in Chicago — but also avoided decisions in those games.