Cubs rout Reds for 7th straight win, 11-4
CHICAGO (AP) — As much as Yonder Alonso might like to forget his first weekend at Wrigley Field, he may not have a choice.
Alonso hit his major league home run, but misplayed a ball in Wrigley Field’s adventurous outfield that helped the Chicago Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 11-4 Saturday for their seventh straight win.
After a scary collision between second baseman Brandon Phillips and center fielder Drew Stubbs led to Reed Johnson’s leadoff double in the fourth inning, Alfonso Soriano hit a routine flyball to left.
Alonso, playing for the injured Chris Heisey, stepped on a sprinkler in the outfield and was unable to track down the ball. Johnson scored and Soriano made it to second base.
The Cubs went on to score nine runs over the next three innings to put the game out of reach. The Reds matched their season high by committing three errors in the game.
“I stepped on a sprinkler … I definitely should have caught that ball,” Alonso said. “You have to learn with it. First time in this stadium, I’ve never been here. It’s a little tough to play with the wind and the sun and all that. No excuses, really.”
Alonso also misplayed a ball in the series opener on Friday that led to Tony Campana’s inside-the-park home run.
The 24-year-old rookie then hit his first career homer in the sixth, a solo shot off Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano, but said the moment was bittersweet.
“Obviously you want to get that win,” he said. “It’s nice to get that home run so it’s not a ’0’ anymore, it’s a ’11 in there. Just move with it, accept it and be positive with it. Shake it off because tomorrow we have to go at it again.”
Johnson hit a popup into shallow center field to lead off the fourth. Phillips and Stubbs both pursued the ball with Stubbs sliding at the last minute as Phillips gloved it.
But Phillips tripped over the sliding Stubbs, losing the ball and his balance. He remained down for several minutes while the trainers tended to him. Phillips stayed in the game after the collision but was removed for a pinch-hitter the next inning.
Phillips was diagnosed with a sprained right ankle but has not been ruled out for Sunday.
“That was a blessing that my foot was in the air a little bit and I had on the rubber cleats today. If I had on my metal cleats today, I probably would have been done,” Phillips said.
“I work on that play every day. I knew I was going to catch it, I just have to work on getting hit.”
“I’m feeling all right. I was just talking to the doc, he said just to make sure I don’t sit around, just make sure you walk around a little bit and keep your foot elevated. Just walk it off. Once you sit there, it might blow up on you. So looks like I’m going to be walking around the city of Chicago again. I might be looking at the water or something.”
The Cubs tagged Reds starter Johnny Cueto for five runs and seven hits in 3 2-3 innings and have won seven straight games for the first time since Aug. 23-29, 2008.
Zambrano (9-6) overcome early control problems. He allowed six hits and four walks and struck out six. One of the top hitting pitchers, Zambrano’s solo homer in the third opened the scoring for Chicago and gave him seven career homers against Cincinnati.
“It was supposed to be in the dirt and it didn’t quite hit the dirt, it hit the bleachers,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We know Zambrano can hit, he ain’t hitting .350 for nothing. Second home run this year, you have to pitch him tough like he’s a hitter.”
Cueto (7-5) hadn’t allowed more than three earned runs over a span of 17 starts dating to last season but allowed season highs in hits and runs. The homer he allowed to Zambrano ended a streak of six starts without a long ball.
Cueto also walked three, hit two batters and threw a wild pitch.
“He wasnt sharp,” Baker said. “He wasn’t sharp early in the count. We were hoping he would get sharp like he can sometimes. But he was spinning off and missing the outside part of the plate.”
The Reds have lost four of five and 11 of their last 15 on the road.
Cueto entered the game with a 1.72 ERA and had allowed just one run over his last 20 innings but the Cubs responded to their early deficit by jumping on the hard-throwing righty and chasing him before could escape the fourth.
Zambrano started the rally by golfing a low pitch well into the right-field bleachers for his second homer of the season. It was the 23rd career homer for Zambrano, moving him into a tie with Walter Johnson for ninth on the all-time list for home runs as a pitcher.
The Cubs broke the game open in the fifth with five runs against Cincinnati reliever Sam LeCure.
NOTES: Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman had a streak of 10 1-3 hitless innings snapped on Friday. It was the longest such streak by a Reds reliever since Chuck McElroy had 11 1-3 hitless innings from April 25 to May 17, 1994. Baker said Chapman wasn’t even aware that he had a streak going. … Heisey was held out of the Reds’ lineup for the third straight game because of a sore oblique muscle caused by a batting practice swing Wednesday in Houston. The team may place Heisey on the disabled list before the game on Sunday. … The Cubs and Reds wrap up their three-game weekend series on Sunday. Bronson Arroyo will start for Cincinnati looking for his first win since June 25. He’s 0-3 with three no decisions over that stretch. He’s fared well at Wrigley Field, however, going 4-0 with a 1.95 ERA over his last five starts there. … Randy Wells will take the mound for Chicago. He’s 4-1 with a 2.96 ERA lifetime against the Reds, but he’s struggled overall this season, having allowed a home run in 10 of his 13 starts. … Zambrano has now driven in a run at the plate and earned a victory in the same game 38 time in his career, breaking a tie with Washington’s Livan Hernandez for the most among active players.