Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs
- Cincinnati defeated Toronto, 4-3, at home on Sunday, and including taking two of three from the Jays over the weekend, has now won three straight series -- tied with the A's and Dodgers for the longest active streak in the majors. The Reds have played 29 one-run games (14-15 record) in 2014 -- tied with the Red Sox for second most in the majors (Pittsburgh -- 32).
- The Cubs lost, 2-1, to the Pirates yesterday, and are now 7-13 (.350) in one-run affairs this season -- worst in the NL and second worst in MLB overall (Royals are 8-15, .348). Dating to June 3 vs. the Mets, Chicago has won four of its last six series.
- The Reds took two of three from the Cubs in Chicago earlier this season, and are 19-4 on the road against Chicago since the beginning of 2012 overall. Cincinnati has won seven straight series at Wrigley Field.
- Alfredo Simon went 6.1 innings and allowed three runs (all earned) in Pittsburgh in his last outing, garnering the victory, and winning his fourth consecutive start in the process. Simon (2-0, 1.50 ERA in two career starts vs. Cubs) is 7-1 on the road in 2014 -- the most road wins by any MLB pitcher.
- Jeff Samardzija went 6.0 innings and allowed three runs (all unearned) in his last outing vs. the Marlins six days ago, but was saddled with his seventh no-decision of the season for his efforts. Dating to August 18, 2012, Samardzija is 0-5 with a 4.75 ERA in his last eight starts against the Reds.
- The Reds are 7-2 (.778) in their last nine road contests -- the best road record in MLB since May 30. The Cubs are 9-4 (.692) at Wrigley Field since May 17 -- the best home mark of any NL club during that span, and third best in MLB overall.
- Yankees acquire 3B Headley from Padres
- Rockies place SS Tulowitzki on 15-day DL
- Puig, Ramirez out again for Dodgers
- A's extend lease in Oakland for 10 years
- Selig still waiting on Tommy John report
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD
(AP) -- Although their surging offense could be missing Brandon Phillips, the Cincinnati Reds hope to move above .500 for the first time this season with one of the majors' biggest surprises taking the mound.
As Alfredo Simon looks to become the NL's first 11-game winner, the Reds go for their ninth win in 12 games Monday night in the opener of a three-game road set against Jeff Samardzija and the Chicago Cubs.
Cincinnati (37-37) has averaged 8.1 runs and batted .424 with runners in scoring position over its last six games, but suffered a scare when Phillips left Sunday's 4-3 home win over Toronto in the fifth inning.
Manager Bryan Price said the All-Star second baseman injured his heel on a swing and is day to day.
"I just felt like it was smart (to get him out)," Price told the team's official website. "We could get started on the treatment, get an X-ray, take a look at things, and hopefully there will be a lot of progress made between now and tomorrow's game."
Phillips, who has 10 RBIs in his last nine contests, has knocked in 699 runs in his nine seasons with the Reds. He's trying to become the 12th player in franchise history to reach 700.
However, he's struggled against the NL Central-worst Cubs (31-42) with just three hits and two RBIs in his last 33 at-bats.
Jay Bruce has fared much better at Wrigley Field, hitting .419 in his last seven visits. He went 5 for 10 with two homers and four RBIs in the three-game set with the Blue Jays.
Cincinnati might not need much scoring as Simon (10-3, 3.05 ERA) looks to win his fifth consecutive start after allowing three runs over 6 1-3 innings Wednesday in an 11-4 victory at Pittsburgh.
The right-hander, who only had 19 starts over his first six years, now has a chance to join the New York Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka as baseball's only 11-game winners.
Simon gave up two earned runs over 12-plus innings in a pair of wins over the Cubs in April. Anthony Rizzo is just 1 for 7 when facing Simon, though Luis Valbuena has gone 3 for 5 with a home run and three RBIs.
Since winning eight of nine at Wrigley Field, Chicago has dropped three of four there following Sunday's 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh.
Samardzija (2-6, 2.60), who has been the subject of trade rumors, has a 5.73 ERA in four June starts after posting a 1.68 mark in his first 11.
The right-hander gave up three unearned runs and fanned eight over six innings Tuesday, but did not factor in the decision after the bullpen blew his one-run lead in a 6-5 loss at Miami. The Cubs are 3-12 in his 15 outings this season.
"That's the way it goes," said Samardzija, who is 0-5 with a 4.75 ERA in his last eight starts versus Cincinnati. "I go out and pitch and keep doing my job and making improvements."
Billy Hamilton has gone 4 for 7 with a home run and Devin Mesoraco is 6 for 11 with a homer when facing Samardzija. Mesoraco, who was given Sunday off, looks to homer in his fourth straight contest.
Chicago's Welington Castillo, activated from the disabled list Sunday, is hitting .444 with three homers in his last seven meetings with the Reds.
Updated June 22, 2014