Chicago Cubs (38-52) at Cincinnati Reds (49-42), 12:35 p.m. (ET)

 

The Sports Network

(SportsNetwork.com) - Exactly how many starters can the Cincinnati Reds do without, and still defeat the Chicago Cubs?

That may be the question of note on Thursday afternoon at Great American Ball Park, where the Reds host the Cubs in the finale of an extended five-game series.

The Reds have already been without first baseman Joey Votto for the entire series with a strained leg muscle, and they may have to complete the finale without center fielder Billy Hamilton and second baseman Brandon Phillips, each of whom was hurt in Wednesday's fourth game.

A sweep would be Cincinnati's first over the Cubs in a five-game series since 1931.

Hamilton has stolen seven bases and is batting .373 against the Cubs this season, but is likely on the shelf after tweaking his hamstring.

"I knew something was happening," he said. "On the last at-bat, I stepped down and I felt it pull when I started running."

Phillips, meanwhile, sprained a thumb while making a catch in the eighth inning. Post-game X-rays showed no break.

The four wins have helped move the Reds within 2 1/2 games of the lead in the National League's Central Division, and they'll try to get closer with starter Homer Bailey, who's won five of his last six home starts.

Bailey has a 2.49 earned run average in those outings and had won five straight before going eight innings in a tough-luck 1-0 loss to Milwaukee on Saturday.

He was 7-0 with a 3.00 ERA in his first 10 starts against the Cubs before dropping a 7-3 decision to them on June 24, after allowing four runs in 5 1/3 innings.

He's opposed by Chicago's Kyle Hendricks, who'll come up from Triple-A Iowa to become the latest novice with a chance to replace traded starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

Hendricks threw 102 2/3 innings at Iowa and posted a 3.59 ERA.

"The trade sends a ripple effect through the minor league system," manager Rick Renteria said. "For them, it opens opportunities. They still have to perform."

On Wednesday, Alfredo Simon was once again solid on the hill and the Reds picked up another win over the Cubs, 4-1.

Simon (12-3) recorded his NL-leading 12th victory by limiting the Cubs to one run on four hits over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out eight and walked just two in posting his 16th quality start of the year.

Phillips went 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Anthony Rizzo became the first Cubs player to hit 20 home runs before the All- Star break since Rick Monday did so in 1973, but the club still dropped its sixth straight on the heels of a promising four-game winning streak.

Dallas Beeler (0-2), in his second major league start, went five innings and was touched for four runs on five hits and four walks to take the loss.

Read more Baseball Wires stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Detroit Tigers' Torii Hunter, right, and Miguel Cabrera celebrate Hunter's solo home run off Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Casey Fien in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, in Minneapolis. Miguel Cabrera followed Hunter with a solo home run moments later. The Tigers won 8-6.

    Twins still showing fight in late-season games

    Three losses away from a fourth straight season of at least 90, the Minnesota Twins are still playing meaningful mid-September baseball.

  •  
Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker, center, gets a fist bump from a coach in the dugout before a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif.

    Angels clinch playoff spot, beat Mariners 8-1

    The Los Angeles Angels became the first team in the major leagues to clinch a playoff spot on Monday night, with Matt Shoemaker pitching five-hit ball into the eighth inning of an 8-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

  • Recap: LA Angels vs. Seattle

    Albert Pujols hit a three-run double to help the LA Angels of Anaheim to an 8-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners in the opener of a four-game series.

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category