CHICAGO (AP) — Carlos Pena hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth inning to send the Chicago Cubs to a 6-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night.
Aramis Ramirez had a two-run double for Chicago, which took two of three against Cincinnati to earn a split of its six-game homestand. Starlin Castro and DJ LeMahieu each had two hits for the Cubs.
Castro sparked the winning rally with a leadoff single against Logan Ondrusek (4-5). Reed Johnson moved Castro to second with a sacrifice before the Reds decided to intentionally walk Ramirez and bring in left-hander Bill Bray to face the lefty-batting Pena.
Big mistake, at least Wednesday night.
Pena pulled Bray’s first pitch onto Sheffield Avenue for his 26th homer and third in his last eight games.
The big first baseman began the day with a .135 average against lefties, and Bray was holding lefty batters to a .188 average. But this time it didn’t work out for the Reds.
Yonder Alonso had three hits for Cincinnati, which has lost seven of 10. Joey Votto went 2 for 4 and drove in a run.
Kerry Wood (2-5) pitched a scoreless eighth for the victory and Carlos Marmol worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 33rd save in 42 chances.
The Reds chased starter Ryan Dempster with three consecutive hits to begin the seventh inning, including pitcher Johnny Cueto’s leadoff infield single. Votto hit a sacrifice fly off James Russell to trim Chicago’s lead to 3-2 and Jay Bruce followed with a bouncer down the third-base line for an RBI double.
The Cubs brought their infield in for Alonso, who hit a fly ball to medium center field. Johnson got in good position, brought it in, then fired a strong throw to catcher Koyie Hill that cut down Edgar Renteria at the plate.
Chicago got a big inning-ending double play in the sixth when Ramon Hernandez lined to shortstop Castro, who threw to LeMahieu before Alonso could get back to second base.
Dempster allowed 10 hits — matching a season high — and is winless in his last five starts.
Cueto retired 11 of his first 12 batters before running into a bit of trouble in the fifth. Pena led off with a double to right-center for Chicago’s second hit. He moved up on a wild pitch and scored on LeMahieu’s tying two-out single, but Cueto got Hill to fly out to end the inning.
The Cubs added two runs in the sixth on Ramirez’s clutch double. Castro sparked the rally with an infield hit on a dribbler up the third-base line. Johnson singled to center before Ramirez hit a drive into the corner in left to make it 3-1.
Cueto allowed seven hits in seven innings and his ERA increased from 2.29 to 2.36.
Cincinnati pushed across a run after Dempster quickly retired the first two batters of the game. Votto hit a well-placed fly ball to left that landed in front of Alfonso Soriano, then rolled past him for a triple. Bruce walked before Alonso hit a liner up the middle for an RBI single.
NOTES: 2B Darwin Barney left the Cubs to be with his wife for the birth of their second child. Manager Mike Quade said he expects Barney will rejoin the team Friday in New York. … Reds RHP Mike Leake will make one more start this season. Manager Dusty Baker said the team will use a six-man rotation for one turn, inserting RHP Edinson Volquez, then Leake will drop out. Leake had 138 1-3 innings last year as a rookie and is up to 159 2-3 already this season. … The Cubs and Old Style-maker Pabst Brewing Co. announced the brew that has been available to fans since 1950 will be peddled at the Wrigley Field through 2013. Pabst threatened earlier this year to pull the beer from the ballpark. … The Cubs are off Thursday before opening a weekend series at the New York Mets. RHP Casey Coleman (2-7, 6.61 ERA) is scheduled to face Mets RHP Mike Pelfrey (7-11, 4.68) on Friday night. … The Reds are off Thursday, then begin a three-game series at Colorado on Friday night. Reds RHP Homer Bailey (7-7, 4.57 ERA) and Rockies RHP Jhoulys Chacin (11-10, 3.60 ERA) will meet in the opener. … A fan in the second deck made a solid catch on a foul ball in the fifth inning, but one of his friends lost his hat over the railing in the resulting celebration, drawing guffaws from the crowd of 36,797. He went down to the lower section to retrieve his cap, and got a small ovation from his section when he returned.
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