Cincinnati Reds

Samardzija throws some heat past Cincinnati

CINCINNATI — Jeff Samardzija didn't have a problem breaking a sweat.

Samardzija pitched into the eighth inning on a warm, humid night that was to his liking Wednesday, keeping his fastball around 96 mph the whole way, and the power-challenged Chicago Cubs hit a pair of homers for a 3-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

A warm front moved through the area on Tuesday night, setting off rounds of thunderstorms that forced postponement of the opening game of the series. When Samardzija took the mound a day later, it was 87 degrees for the first pitch.

Perfect for Samardzija (3-1), who grew up in Indiana and is used to heat and humidity.

"It feels nice to have warm weather, I'll tell you that much," he said. "Late in the game, it keeps your arm going. It's amazing what a difference it makes."

The right-hander allowed only three hits in 72⁄3 innings, leaving after giving up a two-out walk. He threw 94 pitches — 60 for strikes — and struck out seven.

Bryan LaHair and Ian Stewart hit solo homers off Bronson Arroyo (1-1) for only the Cubs' third multihomer game of the season. They managed only nine homers in April, fewest in the majors.

LaHair's leadoff homer in the second gave him six overall. Stewart's was his second. The third baseman also had a nice barehanded play to rob Drew Stubbs of a hit in the fourth.

Samardzija contained Jay Bruce, holding the NL's player of the week to a harmless double. Carlos Marmol retired all three batters in the ninth for his second save in four chances, finishing off the combined three-hitter.

It was the second straight impressive start for Samardzija, who struck out a career-high nine Cardinals in 62⁄3 innings on April 24. He's made 10 career starts in the majors.

"He usually doesn't have that command or control," Reds Manager Dusty Baker said. "He was throwing 95-98 at the start and he was still at 95-96 when he left. Tonight wasn't us, it was him."

LaHair led off the second inning with his sixth homer of the season off Arroyo, who gave up a club-record 46 homers last season when he pitched with mononucleosis and a sore lower back. He's been better so far this season, giving up only two homers in his four previous starts.

Stewart homered in the fourth inning, matching the Cubs' season high for homers in one game. They put together three singles for another run in the sixth off Arroyo, the run scoring on Geovany Soto's hit. Arroyo gave up nine hits and a walk in six innings, throwing 99 pitches.

The Reds scored in the fourth when Brandon Phillips got caught in a rundown and extended it long enough to let Joey Votto cross home plate.