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Apr 18, 7:31 PM EDT

Cubs drop 5th straight, 4-1 to Reds


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CHICAGO (AP) -- Jeff Samardzija has had a hard time finding run support this season. The same could be said for all Chicago Cubs' pitchers.

First, the good news: Chicago managed to break a 24-inning scoreless streak.

And then, the usual dose of bad news: Alfredo Simon lowered his ERA to 0.86, and the Reds beat the Cubs 4-1 Friday for their 16th win in their last 17 games at Wrigley Field.

"You go out and pitch and do your job. You control what you can control. There's plenty of times when it goes the other way," Samardzija said.

Samardzija (0-2) gave up three runs - one earned - and six hits in seven innings with seven strikeouts and two walks. He is 0-4 despite a 3.86 ERA in 10 starts since winning at San Diego on Aug. 24.

Chicago, last in the NL Central at 4-11, has given Samardzija just four runs of support while's been in the game during four starts this year.

"This game has a funny way of evening out," he said.

Making his third start, Alfredo Simon (2-1) allowed an unearned run in six-plus innings and sent the Cubs to their fifth straight loss. Simon, in the rotation while Mat Latos recovers from elbow and knee injuries, had made 99 relief appearances for the Reds before getting a chance to start this year.

"I know that he was a waiver-claim guy for us. ... But he has been remarkable," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He's wanted more opportunity. We've given that to him."

Jonathan Broxton pitched a hitless ninth for his second save in two tries, completing a six-hitter for the Reds, who stretched their winning streak to a season-best three.

Chicago entered with the second-lowest batting average in the NL. The Cubs are last in slugging percentage and first in runners left on base.

"I concern myself more with the way we approach the game," manager Rick Renteria said. "I think we we're a little sloppy in general, and Jeff really kept us in the ballgame throughout. I think we'll do better."

Cincinnati, which won last year's season series 14-5, went ahead on Billy Hamilton's RBI double in the fifth. The Reds made it 3-0 in the sixth when Zack Cozart hit a bases-loaded grounder to third, and second baseman Emilio Bonifacio's relay for a double-play attempt went wide of first for an error that allowed Ryan Luwick to score from second. Ludwick had reached on catcher's interference by Welington Castillo.

Cincinnati scored another run in the eighth on a wild pitch by Justin Grimm.

Luis Valbuena's RBI single in the seventh ended Chicago' scoreless streak dating to Sunday's loss to St. Louis.

"We just weren't able to do a whole lot offensively," Renteria said.

NOTES: Reds 2B Brandon Phillips left in the middle of the third, two innings after he felt back spasms after he swung and missed a Samardzija pitch. Price said Phillips was removed as a precaution and said he was hopeful Phillips could play Saturday. ... Price said LHP Aroldis Chapman has been cleared to throw batting practice for the first time since he was hit in the face by a line drive during an exhibition game on March 19. ... Reds LHP Sean Marshall (sore left shoulder) has rejoined the Reds and could be activated this weekend. ... The Reds stole five bases. ... Jon Tinker, a grandson of former Cubs Hall of Fame shortstop Joe Tinker of Tinker to Evers to Chance fame, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Cincinnati's scheduled starter Saturday is LHP Tony Cingrani (1-1), while RHP Edwin Jackson (0-1) is to start for the Cubs.

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