Cubs-Reds Preview

Last week in Chicago, Cincinnati’s Mike Leake was one out away

from completing a one-hitter and his first career shutout when it

all suddenly fell apart.

At least he doesn’t have to wait until next season for a chance

at redemption.

Likely making his final start of the year, Leake looks to exact

some revenge Tuesday night against the same Cubs team that spoiled

his gem.

At Wrigley Field last Tuesday, Leake had allowed only three

baserunners – including one hit on Alfonso Soriano’s second-inning

single – when Starlin Castro came up with two outs in the ninth and

the Reds leading 2-0.

Castro gave the Cubs life with an infield single and

pinch-hitter Bryan LaHair followed with a game-tying home run.

Leake got Aramis Ramirez to fly out, and walked to the dugout

having thrown a career-high nine innings with nothing to show for

it, although Cincinnati (71-76) won 4-2 in 13 innings.

“You hate to get two outs and it be the last at-bat. It got to

me,” Leake told the Reds’ official website. “I’m glad we came back,

or else I would have been wearing it even more.”

It likely would have left an even worse taste in his mouth had

that been his last start of the year.

Prior to the game, Dusty Baker said he wasn’t sure if Leake

would make another start. A day after watching the

near-masterpiece, the manager decided he didn’t want his

23-year-old right-hander’s season to end like that.

Leake has thrown 167 innings between the Reds and Triple-A

Louisville this season after throwing 138 1-3 last year as a

rookie.

Although Cincinnati is concerned with his health for the future,

Leake has looked strong lately. In 10 starts since the All-Star

break, he has a 3.60 ERA while going at least six innings in each.

He was extremely efficient against Chicago, needing only 65 pitches

to get through seven innings and finishing with 91.

Leake has always pitched well against the Cubs, going 3-1 with a

2.95 ERA in six outings – all quality starts. He has shut down some

of their top hitters, limiting Ramirez, Soriano and Geovany Soto to

a combined four hits in 37 at-bats.

Those three all contributed in Chicago’s 12-8 win in Monday’s

series opener. Ramirez had three hits – including a double and his

25th homer – Soriano went 2 for 5 with three RBIs and Soto drove in

two. Castro also homered, scored four runs and drove in three while

extending his career-high hitting streak to 13 games.

The Cubs (65-82) have won three in a row and six of eight, while

the Reds have lost three in a row and 10 of 14.

Brandon Phillips hit two homers Monday after failing to go deep

in his previous 20 games, but could have trouble against scheduled

starter Ryan Dempster (10-11, 4.74), against whom he is batting

.182 (6 for 33) lifetime.

Dempster gave up three runs and 10 hits in six-plus innings of

Wednesday’s 6-3 win over the Reds, but didn’t get a decision. The

right-hander is 0-3 with a 5.64 ERA in his last four starts after

going 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA in the previous four.

He is 2-1 with a 2.88 ERA in four starts against the Reds this

season.