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DeShield#039;s HR beats Reds, 6-4

CHICAGO -- Delino DeShields hasn't contributed much to the Chicago Cubs this season. But he came up with a big hit Monday night.

DeShields hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning and the Chicago bats broke through late in the game as the Cubs handed the Cincinnati Reds their eighth straight loss, 6-4 Monday night.

''Delino DeShields keeps coming along, coming along and getting better every day,'' Cubs manager Don Baylor said. ''Tonight he hits a big home run for us.''

DeShields homer was just his third this season. With two hits, he raised his batting average to .203.

Trailing 2-1 in the seventh, the Cubs took control of the game in the seventh with an RBI double by Roosevelt Brown off Scott Williamson (2-2) and DeShields' homer.

Chicago added two runs in the eighth on an RBI single by Bill Mueller and a sacrifice fly by Angel Echevarria. The Cubs have won three straight games.

''A couple of guys like Angel Echevarria and Roosevelt Brown also came of the bench for us tonight,'' Baylor said.

Jeff Fassero (2-5) got two outs for the win. Antonio Alfonseca pitched the ninth, allowing a sacrifice fly to Reggie Taylor that just missed being a game-tying home run. Alfonseca got his 11th save in 13 opportunities.

The Reds' longest losing streak of the season has dropped them from first place to three games behind St. Louis in the NL Central.

''I don't know if I can figure it,'' Williamson said. ''I made a decent pitch to Roosevelt Brown, but I got a bad break out there and he hit it hard. I got a little mad and threw the first fastball to Delino right down the middle basically and he hit it out.''

The late offense for the Cubs salvaged rookie Mark Prior's solid start. Prior retired 14 of the first 15 batters and faced the minimum 15 through five innings. He allowed two runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings.

''Overall, I was pleased,'' Prior said. ''In one inning I gave up two runs when I made some dumb mistakes. My goal is to give the team a chance to win and I think I did that.''

Reds starter Elmer Dessens allowed one run and six hits in six innings, lowering his ER to 2.56, fourth best in the National League.

After loading the bases with none out in the fourth, the Cubs managed only one run on Moises Alou's double-play grounder.

Barry Larkin hit a sacrifice fly and Sean Casey had a run-scoring groundout in the sixth inning to give Cincinnati a 2-1 lead. But that's all the Reds could get off Prior.

''That's as good as he's thrown,'' Baylor said. ''Instead of poking around the strike zone, he went right at them tonight. With his stuff, it's good enough that he can challenge guys.''

Juan Encarnacion's RBI single in the eighth cut the lead to 4-3.

Notes:

Cincinnati OF Ken Griffey Jr. missed the game with a sore right hamstring and is day to day. Griffey was hurt Sunday against Oakland, aggravating a strain. The injury is not considered serious. ''He got a little twinge,'' Reds manager Bob Boone said before Monday's game. ''We don't think it's too serious.'' Griffey originally strained the hamstring on June 7 while running out a grounder in Anaheim. He was limited to four pinch-hit appearances until he returned to the starting lineup on June 18. … Entering Monday, the Reds had scored only 11 runs in their previous seven games. … Cubs closer Tom Gordon (torn right shoulder muscle) made his second rehab appearance Monday, working 1 2-3 innings for Class-A Daytona. Associated Press