Reds’ Simon aims for 11th win against Cubs

(SportsNetwork.com) – Alfredo Simon tries for his National League-leading 11th
win Monday night, when the Cincinnati Reds open a three-game set against the
Chicago Cubs.

The Reds, who have captured eight of their previous 11 games overall, have a
chance to get over .500 for the first time all season. They will ride on their
past success at Wrigley Field, a stadium they’ve won 17 of their last 19
contests. That includes taking two of three from April 18-20 this year.

Simon began the season as Cincinnati’s fifth starter while Mat Latos recovered
from elbow and knee surgeries, but the 33-year-old right-hander has become one
of the hottest pitchers in the NL. He’s won a career-high four consecutive
starts, and the four-game winning streak ties for the longest in his career.

Simon, who hasn’t lost since May 27 at Dodger Stadium, is coming off an 11-4
victory at Pittsburgh on Wednesday when he gave up five hits and three runs in
6 1/3 innings. Simon is 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA in 12 games (two starts) versus
the Cubs.

Jeff Samardzija, who counters for the Cubs, has struggled this season and has
lost two of his last three decisions. He didn’t factor in the decision when
facing Miami last Tuesday. Samardzija is 1-5 with a 4.54 ERA in 23 career
games (nine starts) against the Reds. That includes an 0-2 mark with a 2.84
ERA in two starts against them this season.

This marks the start of a 10-game road trip for the Reds, who are 7-2 in their
last nine games outside Cincinnati.

On Sunday, Johnny Cueto lowered his MLB-leading ERA in helping the Reds to a
4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in the rubber match of a three-game set.
Cueto (7-5) tossed eight innings and allowed three runs — one earned — on
seven hits with eight strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 1.86 on the season.
Todd Frazier homered and Jay Bruce knocked in a run for the Reds.

Right fielder Jay Bruce, who finished the series 5-for-10 with four RBI and
seven runs scored, has an RBI in each of his last four games. First baseman
Joey Votto has reached base in all 12 games since coming off the disabled

Brandon Phillips left Sunday’s game with a bruised left heel for the Reds.

The Cubs dropped the final two contests of a three-game set versus Pittsburgh
over the weekend at Wrigley Field. On Sunday, the Cubs mustered only two hits
off Brandon Cumpton in a 2-1 final. Junior Lake and Darwin Barney opened the
eighth with back-to-back singles, but Tony Watson escaped the jam by striking
out two batters after a sacrifice bunt.

The Cubs had men on the corners after Pirates closer Mark Melancon gave up
consecutive singles to begin the ninth. Chicago got on the board when Nate
Schierholtz hit into a fielder’s choice, with second baseman Josh Harrison
flipping to shortstop Jordy Mercer for the second out.

Melancon then retired Lake on a flyout to right for his 12th save of the

“To get those two runners on early and not capitalize on it is unfortunate,”
said Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.