Reds manage just 5 hits in loss to Cubs

Published 11:09 pm Saturday, July 3, 2010

CHICAGO — While Randy Wells was thinking about a possible no-hitter, his teammates were just trying to find a way to push across some runs.

Wells took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning to end his long losing streak and Geovany Soto hit a two-run double as the Chicago Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-1 on Saturday despite stranding 17 runners.

“I was just focused on what I had to do and tried to keep my mind on the game,” Wells said. “I wasn’t really paying attention to how many guys were left on or anything like that.”

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Wells held Cincinnati hitless until Chris Heisey’s leadoff single on an 0-1 pitch in the seventh.

Joey Votto followed with a single but the right-hander escaped a jam with the help of a baserunning blunder by Heisey, who took off for third on a pitch in the dirt but then stopped in the middle of the basepath and was thrown out in a rundown.

Scott Rolen doubled to put runners at second and third before Wells struck out Jay Bruce and retired Ramon Hernandez on a grounder to end the inning.

“We were threatening in the seventh with two on but the running really seemed to cost us,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “That seems like it always happens after somebody gets thrown out, the next guys gets a hit. (Heisey) was hustling, he was trying to advance. He thought that ball bounced away further than it did and it didn’t go very far. We still had some action after the double and Randy threw some good pitches to get out of that inning.”

Chicago won for just the fifth time in 15 games. The Cubs also left 17 runners on base in a 15-inning game April 9, 2004, at Atlanta, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That marks the franchise record since the live-ball era began in 1920, Elias said.

The NL record is 18, set by the Braves on June 23, 1986, at the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“Every time you get guys in scoring position you try your best to get them in and get the RBIs and get the team to get going,” Soto said. “And every time you don’t do it, it’s like, here we go again.”

Wells (4-6), who lost his previous six decisions, allowed five hits over 7 2-3 innings. He struck out five and walked one for his first win in 11 starts since April 30 against Arizona.

Cubs closer Carlos Marmol got Heisey to fly out in the eighth and pitched a scoreless ninth for his 15th save in 18 opportunities.

Wells faced one batter more than the minimum through six innings. He walked Paul Janish in the third with one out, but after a sacrifice bunt by Johnny Cueto, Brandon Phillips grounded out to end the inning.

“I was pleased right out of the bullpen today,” Wells said. “I had a good feel for the fastball down and away and the breaking ball. I was able to mix the ball in and out and up and down. Everything was just kind of clicking.”

After pitching in and out of jams, Cueto left after five scoreless innings and 101 pitches. He worked around seven hits and five walks while striking out two.

“He was struggling big-time but he threw a lot of pitches,” Baker said. “We had to get him out of there.”

Votto reached base safely for the 41st consecutive game. Still, the NL Central-leading Reds had their three-game winning streak snapped.

The Cubs finally broke through in the sixth with three runs after scoring only six in their previous five games.

After going 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position and leaving 12 on base against Cueto, the Cubs got to reliever Jordan Smith.

With one out in the sixth, Smith (1-1) allowed a single to Tyler Colvin, then walked Derrek Lee and hit Marlon Byrd with a pitch to load the bases. Alfonso Soriano got the Cubs on the board with a bloop RBI single and Soto followed with a ground-rule double into the left-field ivy to make it 3-0.

“And then the ball gets stuck in the ivy and costs us another one, but three looked like 13 to me,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.

Laynce Nix hit a leadoff double in the eighth off Wells and moved to third on an errant pickoff attempt. Nix scored on pinch-hitter Orlando Cabrera’s groundout.

Wells was booed for failing to run hard on a sacrifice bunt in the fourth. After the inning, Lee spoke with him in the dugout.

“I talked to him about it. He said the reason he stopped is he felt they were going to tag him. So he stopped then and he didn’t get going as fast as he should have,” Piniella said. “He was talked to.”

Lee ended the inning with a long fly to right with runners on first and third.

NOTES: Cabrera stayed in the game after pinch-hitting in the seventh. … Detroit stranded 18 runners against Cleveland on April 11.