Ex-Cincinnati right-hander Ryan Dempster comes off the 15- day disabled list to face his former team today when the Chicago Cubs visit Great American Ball Park to finish a weather-shortened two-game set with the Reds.
The teams had been scheduled to play three midweek games, but Tuesday's opener was postponed by rain and no makeup date has been set. Instead, the series opened Wednesday and the Cubs broke on top when Jeff Samardzija tossed 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball in a 3-1 win.
Samardzija (3-1) gave up just three hits and two walks while fanning seven. Rafael Dolis got the last out in the eighth and Carlos Marmol finished it off in the ninth to earn his second save of the season.
Bryan LaHair and Ian Stewart hit solo home runs and Geovany Soto added an RBI single among his two hits for the Cubs, who bounced back from a 6-4 loss to Philadelphia on Monday.
Bronson Arroyo (1-1) yielded three runs on nine hits and one walk while fanning three in defeat for the Reds, who had a brief two-game winning streak snapped.
Jay Bruce drove in the lone Cincinnati run with an infield out.
Going for the sweep on his 35th birthday is the Canadian-born Dempster, who was shelved for two-plus weeks with a right groin strain following a no- decision in the Cubs' 5-2 loss at Miami on April 17.
He went six innings in the game and gave up a pair of unearned runs on four hits, lowering his season earned run average from 1.88 to 1.33.
Still, Chicago is 0-3 in the games he's started.
Dempster, a former closer, is 7-8 with five saves in 42 lifetime meetings with the Reds, for whom he made 35 starts in 37 appearances with an 8-12 record before he was released in November 2003.
He signed with the Cubs two months later and has since won 62 games and saved 85 - including a 17-6 season in 2008 that earned him all-star recognition and saw him finish sixth in National League Cy Young Award voting.
Starting for the Reds is Texas-born right-hander Homer Bailey, who'll also celebrate a birthday - his 26th - while facing the Cubs for the second time this season and eighth time in his career.
He was a 9-4 winner in the first matchup on April 20 at Wrigley Field after scattering five hits and allowing a single earned run in seven innings.
The win lifted him to 3-2 overall against Chicago and lowered his ERA against the Cubs to 5.77.
Chicago, which lost two of three to the Reds earlier in the year, is also expected to activate Kerry Wood from the DL in time for today's finale.