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Home runs help Reds snap losing streak at 8

CHICAGO -- Luis Pineda earned his first victory in the majors -- and a trip back to the minors.

Pineda, making his first start in the big leagues, helped the Cincinnati Reds break an eight-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.

Sean Casey, Aaron Boone and Russell Branyan each hit solo homers off Matt Clement (5-5) for the Reds, who scored 15 runs in the eight losses.

Pineda, a 28-year-old right-hander with his fourth organization since 1995, has been a solid reliever for Bob Boone. But the Reds' manager sent Pineda to the minors to improve his stamina.

Pineda allowed three hits over five scoreless innings. He walked five and struck out five.

''I was really excited about Pineda,'' Boone said. ''We sent him to the minor leagues to build up some innings, so he could do just what he did today.''

Pineda (1-3) pitched out of trouble several times -- the Cubs stranded 12 runners, seven in scoring position. But Pineda kept them guessing.

''He was what you'd call wildly effective,'' Chicago's Corey Patterson said. ''You didn't know what to expect,''

With the bases loaded in the second, Pineda said he was buoyed by a terrific 3-6-1 double play. Pineda spiked the ball and ran off the field after completing the play. His confidence increased from there.

''I know I can go out and do my job,'' he said.

He might have to do it in the bullpen. Boone likes the idea of having a lefty in the rotation. Bruce Chen, who has also been with several organizations, fits that bill.

''I saw enough from both that we are going to talk about it again,'' Boone said. ''We've changed the mechanics with Chen, and it might be best for him to make those habits by getting out there as much as possible.''

Danny Graves pitched the ninth for his 22nd save in 27 chances.

The Reds improved to 26-16 without Ken Griffey Jr., who was placed on the 15-day disabled list before Tuesday's game with a strained right hamstring. Cincinnati is 13-20 when he is active.

Griffey, who has missed 42 games because of his hamstring and an earlier knee tendon tear, is batting .243 with two homers, four RBIs and six runs scored in 74 at-bats. He was sent back to Cincinnati to rest.

''We have some help, some depth in the outfield area,'' Boone said. ''We have done a pretty good job without Junior all year because of (Austin) Kearns and Branyan.''

Former Reds infielder Chris Stynes hit a two-run homer for the Cubs.

Adam Dunn and Juan Encarnacion had single RBIs for the Reds.

Notes:

The start of the game was delayed 45 minutes because of rain. … This is the second trip to the DL this season for Griffey, who missed 41 starts with a torn right patellar tendon. … Kearns was recalled from Triple-A Louisville to take his spot. … The Cubs were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. The Associated Press