Latos carries unblemished mark into Wrigley finale

Right-hander Mat Latos aims to stay unbeaten for 2013 on Thursday afternoon when the Cincinnati Reds visit Wrigley Field to conclude a four-game series with the Chicago Cubs.

Latos, who won 14 of 18 decisions in his initial season with the Reds last year, has won six straight verdicts across 13 starts thus far this spring, including a 7-4 defeat of the Cubs at Wrigley on May 5.

In that game, Latos allowed three runs on six hits in five innings. Two starts earlier, on April 24 in Cincinnati, he tossed seven scoreless innings to beat Chicago, 1-0.

In seven career meetings with the Cubs, Latos is 4-2 with a 2.91 earned run average. In seven road starts this year, he's 2-0 with a 2.82 ERA in 44 2/3 innings.

He'll be opposed by Chicago's Jeff Samardzija, who makes his fifth career start against the Reds and his third of 2013.

The former Notre Dame football star dropped the aforementioned 1-0 decision to Latos after allowing a single run on seven hits on April 24, then got a no- decision in the Cubs' 6-4 loss in Cincinnati on May 4.

Samardzija has won two of five decisions across six starts since then, including a 6-2 defeat to Pittsburgh in his last outing on June 8, when he gave up four runs on eight hits in six innings.

His last win came May 27 against the Chicago White Sox, when he tossed a complete-game two-hitter with two walks and eight strikeouts in a 7-0 victory.

Samardzija is 1-2 with a 3.69 ERA in 39 lifetime innings against the Reds.

On Wednesday, Todd Frazier's seventh-inning home run was the difference as Cincinnati eked out a 2-1 win. Brandon Phillips knocked in the other run for the Reds, who extended their win streak on the north side of Chicago this season to six games.

"I don't know what it is," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "We just have to feel fortunate that it happens like it happens."

Mike Leake (6-3) tossed eight solid innings, scattering three hits, one run and a walk while striking out six. Aroldis Chapman completed the contest with a perfect ninth for his 17th save.

Nate Schierholtz hit a second-inning homer for the Cubs, while Travis Wood (5-5) gave up just four hits and two runs over seven full frames in defeat.

"It's getting to be a broken record. 'Woody' pitched another great game and he's got nothing to show for it," said Cubs manager Dale Sveum.

The Reds won seven of the first nine games with the Cubs in 2013, including two of three in a series in Cincinnati from May 24-26.