CUBS' SAMARDZIJA GIVES UP 2 HOMERS IN LOSS: Jeff Samardzija has never pitched this much in his life. It might be catching up to him.
The Cincinnati Reds pegged the Cubs' right-hander for eight hits, including two 400-foot home runs, and six runs in 5 2/3 innings en route to a 6-0 win in the finale of a three-game series on Wednesday.
Devin Mesoraco hit his first home run in more than a month, and Jack Hannahan added his first career pinch-hit homer as Cincinnati avoided a sweep by the last-place Cubs.
Samardzija, who became a full-time starter last season, already had set career highs in starts and innings entering his 30th start on Wednesday. Manager Dale Sveum thinks the workload might be catching up to the Valparaiso High School graduate more than just physically.
"He probably won't admit it, but I think it's probably a combination of that, and he's mentally worn out, too," Sveum said.
He was right about Samardzija (8-12) denying it.
"I feel good," said the pitcher, who threw 114 pitches on Wednesday in 84-degree heat and has 194 2/3 innings under his belt. "I don't think that has anything to do with it right now."
SKY'S DELLE DONNE BEATS MERCURY AT THE BUZZER: Elena Delle Donne made a 10-foot jump shot as time expired to give the Sky a 70-68 victory over the Phoenix Mercury on Wednesday night.
Epiphanny Prince scored 21 points to pace Chicago (23-9). Delle Donne had 18, while Sylvia Fowles added 13 points and 12 rebounds.
FIRE, TORONTO TIE: Robert Earnshaw scored midway through the first half to lift Toronto FC to a 1-1 draw with the Fire on Wednesday night.
Dilly Duka had put the Fire (10-11-6) ahead in the 20th minute.
VALPO SWEEPS WEEKLY HORIZON AWARDS: Valparaiso freshman Peter Webb and senior Michelle Kleckner swept the Horizon League Golfer of the Week accolades after record-setting performances to start their seasons.
Webb's 5-under-par 67 and three-round 5-under 211 total at the Golfweek Program Challenge are program records for single and 54-hole rounds.
Kleckner's three-round 225 at the Golfweek Program Challenge is a women's program record.
WILKINS ADDED TO PURDUE CALUMET COACHING STAFF: Frank Wilkins has been named an assistant coach for Purdue Calumet's program. Wilkins is the former head coach at St. Joseph's. He stepped down last season as the school's all-time winningest coach with more than 300 victories.
Local auto racing
TONY BETTENHAUSEN CLASSIC SATURDAY AT ILLIANA: The 52nd annual Tony Bettenhausen Classic will take place Saturday at Illiana Motor Speedway.
Gates will open at 4 p.m.; time trials will be at 5:30, and the first race will be at 7. Tickets are $18 for adults, $5 for children aged 8 to 12. Pit fee is $30.
An optional practice will take place from 3 to 9 p.m. Friday. Pit fee is $20.
For details, call (219) 322-5311, or go to www.illianaspeedway.com or www.schepeltruck.com.
HAWKS EAGER TO GET STARTED ON NEW SEASON: The Blackhawks are feeling better about their chances of repeating than the last time they won the Stanley Cup.
The Blackhawks won the NHL title in 2010, and then lost several key players mainly because of salary-cap issues. The result was a first-round playoff loss.
Fresh off their second title in four seasons, the Blackhawks arrived in South Bend on Wednesday and will begin training camp with most of the key players back from last year's team.
Captain Jonathan Toews says the players understand there will be a lot of talk about repeating, but he says it's too early to talk about that.
Also on Wednesday, general manager Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks agreed to a two-year contract extension through the 2017-18 season.
REDBIRDS TRYOUTS SATURDAY: The 2014 Lansing Redbirds travel baseball program will hold tryouts for its 13-and-under and 14U travel teams from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Lansing Old Timers Sports Complex, located at 16700 Chicago Ave. in Lansing.
The program serves players who reside in Lansing as well as those from other Illinois and Indiana communities. All participants should dress in appropriate baseball apparel, bring any necessary personal equipment and arrive 30 minutes early for check-in. For details, call (708) 828-1663.