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.
The Cubs' Carlos Marmol is seeking to surpass Lee Smith with a franchise-best 453rd career relief appearance.