Rapid Reaction: Cubs 3, Reds 1

CINCINNATI – The Cubs pitched well and went deep twice in a 3-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday.

How it happened: Jeff Samardzija didn’t give up a hit until the fourth inning and was in complete control against the Reds. He gave up his only run on a double play in the fourth inning. Carlos Marmol managed to throw a perfect ninth inning for his second save, but did give up a fly ball to the warning track in the process. Bryan LaHair hit a home run yet again, his sixth, while Ian Stewart hit his second on the season and first since April 13.

What it means: Samardzija has now been extremely impressive in three of his five starts and has given up just one combined run over his last two outings. If it wasn’t for back-to-back outings last month where looked shaky, he’d be challenging Matt Garza for top dog in the rotation. Samardzija’s most recent domination comes as a prelude to Ryan Dempster’s return to the rotation Thursday and continues to showcase the strength of the Cubs: starting pitching.

Outside the box: When Geovany Soto delivered a bloop single to score a run in the sixth inning, it was the first time he managed to come through with a runner in scoring position. He had been 0-for-10 previously in those situations and had just one RBI entering play Wednesday.

Off beat: With the Cubs flashing some impressive defense for Samardzija, Alfonso Soriano looked as if he wanted to get in the act, making a diving catch in left field. His play complimented a bare-handed pickup and throw from third baseman Ian Stewart, and an eye-popping 4-6-3 double play that began when Blake DeWitt made a diving stop at second base.

Up next: Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster (0-1, 1.33) will return from the disabled list when he faces the Reds on Thursday in the finale of the series and the road trip. Cincinnati will counter with right-hander Homer Bailey (1-2, 3.60) in the 11:35 a.m. CST start from Great American Ball Park.