The Cubs won two of three meetings with the Reds from Aug. 5-7 in the Windy City and took Monday's series opener by a 4-3 score. Matt Garza kept the Cubs ahead by limiting the NL Central-rival Reds to three runs -- one earned -- and six hits with eight strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings. James Russell got the final out of the eighth inning and Carlos Marmol tossed a scoreless ninth for his 32nd save of the season.
"He's the kind of guy that thinks he can close it out," Cubs manager Mike Quade said of Garza. "You give him a hitter like [Jay] Bruce and see how he handles that situation. Those are the kind of things down the road that are going to be good for the organization. You want that guy to make a statement from time to time."
The Cubs hope Rodrigo Lopez can stop his losing streak when he takes the mound tonight. Lopez, a right-hander, has lost three starts in a row and was roughed up for four runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings of Wednesday's 4-0 loss at San Francisco.
Lopez fell to 4-6 in 22 games (12 starts) this season to go along with a 4.94 ERA. In seven career games, six of which have been starts, against the Reds, Lopez is 2-0 with a 4.60 ERA.
It appears the Reds are just playing out the string right now, as last year's NL Central titlists have lost two of three and six of eight contests. In Monday's loss at Wrigley, Yonder Alonso ended with two hits and an RBI and starting pitcher Dontrelle Willis was dealt the loss for allowing six hits and four runs in his 200th career start.
"I like the way I'm pitching but it just takes one inning of one outing," Willis said. "You have to stay strong, stay positive and keep throwing the way I know I can for this ballclub."
Mike Leake gets the nod for Cincinnati tonight and he's 11-9 with a 4.12 earned run average in 27 games (24 starts). Leake lost to the Phillies in Thursday's 6-4 defeat at Great American Ball Park, where he permitted four runs and seven hits in six innings.
The righty lost to the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Aug. 5 this season and tossed six innings of three-run ball with five K's. Leake is 3-1 with a 3.21 ERA in five career starts against the Reds.
Cincinnati has won seven of 12 meetings with the Cubs this season and owns a 19-9 mark in this series since the beginning of the 2010 campaign.