The Cincinnati Reds had one of their more productive days at the plate in recent games in their series opener against the Chicago Cubs . Judging by his first three starts in the majors, Tony Cingrani might not need too much support from his teammates.
The rookie left-hander will try to improve to 3-0 while leading the Reds to a franchise-record eighth consecutive road win over the Cubs on Saturday.
Cincinnati registered its highest run total in 11 games in a 6-5 win Friday and needed all of those runs after closer Aroldis Chapman gave up a season-high three in the ninth.
The Reds (16-14) scored four of their runs with two outs in their 18th victory in 23 games against Chicago (11-18). Cincinnati batted .195 with 17 runs in its previous nine games.
"The team that gets the two-out hits is the team that wins the games," manager Dusty Baker said after the Reds improved to 4-10 on the road. "Those are big, big clutch hits when you get two out.
"We had some guys swing the bat pretty good today."
Cincinnati will try to duplicate that effort and help Cingrani (2-0, 1.50 ERA) remain undefeated through his first four starts. He had his first scoreless one Sunday, tossing six innings and striking out a career-high 11 in a 5-2 victory in Washington.
Cingrani gave up two runs over seven innings and fanned nine against the Cubs on April 23, but the Reds fell 4-2 in 10 innings.
Cingrani, called up April 18 to replace an injured Johnny Cueto , is trying to become the 10th Cincinnati rookie starter since 1921 to win his first three decisions. Current teammate Mike Leake was the most recent to pull off that feat by starting 5-0 in 2010.
Cubs scheduled starter Jeff Samardzija (1-4, 3.35) will try to prevent that while avoiding a career-worst fifth consecutive loss. The right-hander has allowed three runs or fewer in three of his last four outings, giving up one over six innings at Cincinnati in a 1-0 loss April 24.
Samardzija allowed three runs and struck out eight in five innings against San Diego on Monday, but he also matched a season high with four walks as the Cubs rallied for a 5-3 victory.
"Too many walks," Samardzija, who walked three in Cincinnati last month, told the Cubs' official website. "You can't put that many guys on for free. Just pitching in a lot of situations where you have to battle and make bigger pitches makes it harder on yourself."
Samardzija has a 2.89 ERA in three career starts against Cincinnati but has lost the past two in part because he's gotten a combined two runs of support.
Joey Votto , who had two hits and scored two runs Friday, is batting .375 in his last 11 at Wrigley Field. He's 2 for 14 with five strikeouts against Samardzija.
|April 27, 2013||Chris Heisey||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|April 27, 2013||Chris Heisey||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained hamstring|
|April 24, 2013||Manny Parra||15-Day DL||Strained left pectoral muscle|
|April 22, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||Day-to-Day||Bruised right hand|
|April 20, 2013||Zack Cozart||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right hand|
|April 20, 2013||Ryan Hanigan||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|April 14, 2013||Steve Clevenger||60-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|April 13, 2013||Steve Clevenger||Day-to-Day||Left oblique injury|
|April 13, 2013||Kyuji Fujikawa||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|March 31, 2013||Darwin Barney||15-Day DL||Left knee laceration|
|March 31, 2013||Scott Baker||60-Day DL||Strained right elbow|
|March 31, 2013||Darwin Barney||15-Day DL||Left knee laceration|
CHICAGO (AP) -- The Cincinnati Reds were watching when Carlos Marmol came on to pitch the eighth inning, and they knew exactly what to do.
It pays to be patient when the erratic right-hander is on the mound.
Marmol walked two guys and hit another batter before he was pulled, and Cincinnati scored four times to rally for a 6-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.
"You've got to take what they're giving you, and Marmol had a little tough time out there," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Our guys stayed off some close pitches and were fortunate enough to get the hit when we needed it. But also did a good job of keeping the ball off the ground when we had the bases loaded."
That's right, Cincinnati had just one hit in the big eighth inning, but that was all it needed to secure its first winning road series of the season. The Reds held on for a 6-5 victory in the opener on Friday when Darwin Barney struck out with the bases loaded to end the game.
Alfonso Soriano hit a pair of two-run homers for the Cubs, who have lost four of five. But Soriano's 31st career multihomer game had an all-too-familiar end for the veteran slugger.
"We have so many games where we're winning in the sixth, seventh inning and we give it to the other team," Soriano said. "I think that's the difference. ... A game like this we can't give it away."
Jeff Samardzija pitched six effective innings for Chicago after Shin-Soo Choo homered on the first pitch of the game, and James Russell got three outs before Marmol entered with a 4-2 lead. It was Marmol's 453rd relief appearance with the Cubs, snapping a tie with Lee Smith for the franchise record.
He marked the occasion by walking Zack Cozart on four pitches, walking Joey Votto on a full count and hitting Brandon Phillips to load the bases with no outs. That was enough for manager Dale Sveum , who replaced Marmol with Hector Rondon . The crowd of 36,455 showered Marmol (2-2) with boos as he made his way to the dugout.
"Obviously, we know the guys that are out there pitching that have been doing it for a while," Reds right fielder Jay Bruce said. "Marmol's tough, but he's certainly hit or miss, and we took what they gave us and it was enough."
Bruce hit an RBI single and Todd Frazier followed with a sacrifice fly to right, tying it at 4. After Xavier Paul was walked intentionally, pinch-hitter Jack Hannahan walked to force home a run and Devin Mesoraco , another pinch hitter, sent another fly ball into right field to give the Reds a 6-4 lead.
"Nice team effort," Frazier said. "Got nine guys up that inning and we manufactured runs. It wasn't a big one there."
Logan Ondrusek (2-0) worked the seventh, Jonathan Broxton pitched the eighth and Aroldis Chapman finished for his seventh save. Chapman worked around a one-out walk by Soriano one day after he gave up three runs in a non-save opportunity.
Marmol began the year in the closer's role, but was demoted after he blew a save opportunity at Atlanta on April 6. He also was in and out of the closer's spot last year.
He had put together 10 consecutive scoreless appearances before this bad outing.
"I feel very good and that's it," Marmol said. "I didn't throw strikes today. That's what happened."
The Cubs wasted a solid start by Samardzija, who settled down after Choo sent a drive over the left-field wall for his seventh career leadoff homer. He allowed two runs, one earned, and four hits while throwing a season-high 111 pitches.
Cozart had an RBI single in the third for Cincinnati, but Samardzija retired 11 of his final 13 batters. The right-hander is winless in six starts since he tossed eight scoreless innings in a 3-1 victory at Pittsburgh on opening day.
Reds starter Tony Cingrani struggled against the heart of the Cubs' order. The left-hander hit Anthony Rizzo in the first and Soriano followed with a long drive to left. Rizzo doubled off the wall in center in the third and Soriano hit another shot to left for career homer No. 375.
Cingrani, a native of nearby Evergreen Park, allowed three hits in six innings. He struck out five and walked one.
NOTES: Reds C Ryan Hanigan , on the disabled list with a strained left side and bruised left thumb, is hitting and his hand feels strong, but Baker wants him to take his time to make sure he's 100 percent when he returns. "Hanny's a big part of this club," Baker said. ... Barney went 0 for 3 and is hitless in his last 12 at-bats. "He's always working and trying," Sveum said, "but I think he needs to try to stick with one thing and go with that, a lot of changing every single day." ... Cubs RHP Edwin Jackson (0-4, 6.27 ERA) faces Mat Latos (2-0, 1.83) in the series finale on Sunday. Latos enters with a 17-inning scoreless streak.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap