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CIN@CHC: Cueto stifles the Cubs over eight innings

Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker will be the first to admit that a day-night doubleheader is taxing on any team, particularly its pitching staff.

But that's exactly what Baker's Reds and the Cubs face as they prepare to play two on Saturday. The grind of two games in one day is especially grueling with a day game looming the next day.

"It's a big deal, but fortunately for us, it's the only one we have right now," Baker said. "Some teams have a lot of them scheduled down the line. It puts pressure on your pitching staff and some guys will have to play two games. The worst part of that whole scenario is that we have a day game the next day after that. We'll probably go with more youth than veterans because they have a tendency to bounce back quicker."

Baker also has the benefit of being able to send the National League's best day-game pitcher to the mound for Game 1 in Johnny Cueto.

While Cueto is no slouch in night games, either -- he owns a 3.36 ERA -- he has been dominant during the day. He is 10-0 in day games with an NL-leading 1.55 ERA.

Making the challenge more formidable for the Cubs is that Cueto also blanked them for eight innings just last Sunday. The righty allowed only three hits on the way to Cincinnati's 3-0 win. He stomped out one of the Cubs' few scoring chances in the sixth inning -- which started with leadoff singles -- forcing a fielder's choice groundout and a double play.

"I felt like I was locating my pitches away well," Cueto said. "So when I got into [those situations], I thought, 'OK, this is a double-play situation for me, I've got to get it done.'"

Opposing Cueto for the Cubs will be Jeff Samardzija, who figures to give Chicago more than a chance after already defeating the Reds earlier this year. Samardzija threw 7 2/3 innings of three-hit, one-run ball in a 3-1 win over Cincinnati on May 2, his only start against the Reds this season.

The right-hander is also fresh off two straight dominant outings. The most recent was a 7-1 win over Houston Aug. 13, in which he allowed one run on four hits over seven innings.

"Obviously, that [splitter] showed up tonight," Chicago manager Dale Sveum said of Samardzija's start. "It was pretty devastating, as well as his velocity, and everything was pretty good. He had his back-door slider, [he was] able to get back in counts. Everything was working tonight."

Cubs: Castro working on long-term deal
Starlin Castro confirmed a CSNChicago.com report Friday that his agent, Paul Kinzer, is working with the team on reaching a long-term contract extension. Castro originally signed with the Cubs as an amateur free agent in 2006.

He enters Saturday hitting .278 with 12 home runs and 58 RBIs this season. The 22-year-old is a year removed from leading the National League in hits with 207.

"I want to be here, I want to be with the team for a long time," Castro said. "I want to be on this team my whole career. I don't want to go nowhere. I want to finish my career here. That's why I tell my agent I want to be here. I want to help the team."

• Alfonso Soriano enters Saturday needing two RBIs to notch 1,000 for his career. He would become the sixth player in baseball history to record 1,000 RBIs, 400 doubles, 350 home runs, and 250 stolen bases, joining Barry Bonds, Andre Dawson, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, and Gary Sheffield.

Soriano has driven in 10 runs over his last 12 games.

Reds: Votto yet to resume baseball activities
One week after undergoing a minor procedure to remove loose cartilage from his left knee, first baseman Joey Votto still hasn't resumed baseball activities. On the disabled list since July 17, the Reds have yet to announce when Votto could return.

But in the meantime, Cincinnati is 22-9 since Votto's injury, the best record in baseball over that span.

"I'll probably advance to baseball stuff at some point," Votto said. "I'm not sure when, because they haven't specifically told me yet. We're getting a lot of good stuff done in the pool."

• The Reds will take advantage of baseball's new rule that allows teams a 26th man on their roster for doubleheaders, recalling Todd Redmond from Triple-A Louisville to start Saturday's Game 2. The right-hander is 2-3 with a 3.41 ERA in five games with Louisville since Cincinnati acquired him from Atlanta in July, but Saturday will mark his first Major League action.

"It always helps when you know when you're going to do something and go pitch," Redmond said. "I will treat it like any other start."

Worth noting
• Chicago's loss on Friday extended its road losing streak to seven games, dating back to July 25.

• Redmond's start will snap Cincinnati's 120-game streak of using the same five starters all year.

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