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CIN@NYM: Cueto strikes out eight en route to the win

Matt Garza and Johnny Cueto have each notched one start since coming off the disabled list, and now, they're both looking to find their groove on the mound.

The Cubs' Garza and the Reds' Cueto will square off Sunday in the finale of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park, and no doubt both of their teams would like to see the type of performance they've come to expect from the top-of-the-rotation right-handers.

Although Garza was held to 82 pitches his first time out, the leash is off for his second start of 2013. Garza had been out of action since early in Spring Training, when he sustained a lat muscle injury and missed all of Cactus League play, after sitting out the second half of the 2012 season with elbow issues.

Following a Minor League rehabilitation stint, Garza made his return with five scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while walking three and striking out five in a no-decision against the Pirates on Tuesday.

"I had a little nerves that I had to fight off early," Garza said after his 2013 debut. "I was disappointed I didn't go deeper. I don't like coming out in the fifth. That's not what I train for, that's not what I strive to do. It is what it is -- I felt great being back out there, but it [stinks] the way it ended."

Cueto, meanwhile, pitched in three games before going on the disabled list, also with a strained lat muscle. He gave up three runs on three hits and four walks in five innings against the Mets in his return after a month on the DL.

After surrendering a three-run homer, Cueto settled in and reminded the Reds what he is capable of, striking out eight on the day and earning the win.

"He's kind of our anchor," said Reds outfielder Jay Bruce. "You hand him the ball and have him win a game."

Cubs: Rizzo back on the beam
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo ended an 0-for-23 skid with an RBI double in the third Saturday, and he added a single and a double for a 3-for-3 day, after going five games without reaching base.

"I'm going to struggle like [Friday], have great weeks, great stretches and weeks like this," Rizzo said. "It's what comes with this game, and this is what we signed up for. I want to help the team win as much as I can. Everyone here has everyone's back and everyone works hard."

The Cubs continued to struggle with runners in scoring position. In their last six games, they are 9-for-45 with RISP, including 1-for-5 on Saturday.

Reds: Stay hot, Cincinnati
The Reds now have won 16 of their last 20 and five straight, and the heart of their order has been a big reason why. Brandon Phillips extended his hitting streak to 12 games Saturday with a single and a pair of runs, although Joey Votto saw his end at 12. Votto did, however, start the Reds' four-run rally in the sixth inning with a walk.

Another key to the Reds' early success has been their defense, which had committed just 20 errors through Saturday's spotless game, ranking third in the National League.

"Like I've always said, you don't win games on defense, but you can lose them," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "This game is not one to give away extra outs."

Worth noting
• The Reds continued their mastery of the Cubs with Saturday's victory, running their advantage in the season series thus far to 7-1. The two teams play 19 games this season, and they'll have played 13 of them after four games slated for June 10-13 at Wrigley Field.

• Following Sunday's series finale, the Cubs and Reds will head into their Interleague rivalries for back-to-back series. The Cubs will start with two at U.S. Cellular Field against the White Sox before two at Wrigley Field, and the Reds will host the Indians before heading to Progressive Field on Wednesday and Thursday. Comments