Reds continuing to come up short

Published 11:06 pm Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Associated Press

CHICAGO — The Reds keep falling just short.

Tony Campana drove in a pair of runs with an inside-the-park homer and the Chicago Cubs beat Cincinnati 4-3 on Friday for their sixth consecutive victory.

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Cincinnati stranded 12 baserunners and fell to 16-26 in one-run games — which they’ve lost more of than any team in the majors.

“Seems like we can’t get the big hit when we need a clutch hit,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Boy, we certainly had plenty of chances.”

It was the first professional homer for Campana, who sliced a drive that landed inside the left-field line, bounced off the brick wall in foul territory and rolled past stumbling left fielder Yonder Alonso.

“I let it get through me,” Alonso said. “It hit it and it just took off. … I tried turning around and before you know it the ball is all the way at the fence. I just tried rushing it.”

Baker stuck up for his left fielder, noting the difficulty of playing the corners at Wrigley Field, where he managed for four seasons as skipper of the Cubs.

“That’s a tough wall to play,” Baker said. “You only have about six inches of foul territory until the wall.”

Ramon Hernandez homered for Cincinnati, which has lost three of four since a three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants. Brandon Phillips and Alonso each had two hits, but the Reds couldn’t take full advantage of their six hits and eight walks.

“That’s the story of our season so far,” Phillips said. “We haven’t been coming through. I don’t know if our hunger is not there or something.”

Reds starter Mike Leake (9-7) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings. He also had an RBI single in Cincinnati’s two-run fourth that trimmed Chicago’s lead to 3-2.

“They hit some good pitches,” Leake said. “They were a little off the plate and they still hit it. … I was missing some spots early, but then I locked in a little bit.”

The Cubs jumped on Leake in the first. Starlin Castro hit a leadoff single and Campana followed with his homer.

Campana, among the fastest players in baseball, zipped around the bases and scored standing up before the Reds could even return the ball to the infield, electrifying the crowd while some fans were still looking for their seats.

Colvin added his fourth homer in the second inning, a drive into the right-field bleachers, his fourth career homer against Leake.

Hernandez struck out to leave the bases loaded in the first, but the Reds rallied with two out in the fourth. With runners on first and second, Leake hit a shallow fly to center. Campana raced in and made a diving attempt, but the ball popped out of his glove when he struck the ground, allowing Alonso to score. Frazier then scored on a wild pitch.

Campana got another chance in the seventh and hauled in Phillips’ deep drive to center just left of the 400-foot sign.

“He made a great play,” Phillips said, who snagged Campana’s liner in the fifth. “I got him earlier in the game. I joked with him at second base. I was like ‘Thanks for getting me back. I know it’s the name of the game.”’

Phillips knows that if the Reds are going to return to the postseason for the second straight year, the clutch hits are going to have to come.

“I want to go back to the playoffs like last year,” Phillips said. “It was a beautiful thing.

“Mike pitched his butt off. The pitchers have been doing their job. We just haven’t gotten hits in key situations with runners in scoring position.”

NOTES: Reds OF Chris Heisey was held out of the lineup for the second straight game after injuring his left oblique during batting practice in Houston on Wednesday. He was used as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning. Manager Dusty Baker said Heisey was to be examined by team doctor Timothy Kremchek in Chicago on Friday. … Baker said SS Zack Cozart reported he was feeling better and was slated to take batting practice before the game. Cozart has been on the disabled list since July 24 with a hyperextended left elbow. … Johnny Cueto will pitch for the Reds on Saturday against Carlos Zambrano. Cueto (7-4, 1.72 ERA) needs to throw at least 3 1-3 innings to qualify for the league ERA lead, which he held earlier this week before falling shy of the required one inning pitched per team game played. San Francisco’s Ryan Vogelsong currently leads the National League with a 2.19 ERA. After starting the season 25-17, the defending NL Central champion Reds are just 29-41. … Carmen Mauro was the last Cub whose first big league homer was inside the park. He did at St. Louis on Oct. 3, 1948. Mauro hit only one other big league homer. … Cincinnati’s Joey Votto walked twice, but his nine-game hitting streak came to an end.