Pena’s 3-run homer lifts Cubs over Reds

Published 3:20 am Thursday, September 8, 2011

CHICAGO (AP) — Reds manager Dusty Baker had the matchup he wanted and the wind in his favor.

This time, it didn’t work out. In a big way.

Bill Bray yielded a tiebreaking three-run homer to Carlos Pena in the eighth inning, and Cincinnati lost 6-3 to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night.

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Starlin Castro sparked the winning rally with a leadoff single against Logan Ondrusek (4-5). Reed Johnson moved Castro to second with a sacrifice before the Reds decided to intentionally walk Ramirez and bring in left-hander Bray to face the lefty-batting Pena.

Pena responded by driving Bray’s first pitch onto Sheffield Avenue for his 26th homer and third in his last eight games.

“Billy’s been great against lefties all year,” Baker said. “They’re hitting .190 off of him, Pena’s hitting .130 off of lefties. But he made a mistake and hung a slider that didn’t slide, it just spun up there. … He didn’t miss it.”

Aramis Ramirez had a two-run double for Chicago, which took two of three against Cincinnati to earn a split of its six-game homestand. Castro and DJ LeMahieu each had two hits for the Cubs.

“I’m just glad I was able to help the ballclub out there at the end and just get that win,” Pena said. “We felt like yesterday got away from us and to be able to come out with a ‘W’ today, it feels very good.”

Yonder Alonso had three hits for Cincinnati, which beat Chicago 4-2 in 13 innings on Tuesday night but has lost seven of 10 overall. Joey Votto went 2 for 4 and drove in a run.

Kerry Wood (2-5) pitched a scoreless eighth for the victory and Carlos Marmol worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 33rd save in 42 chances.

The Reds chased starter Ryan Dempster with three consecutive hits to begin the seventh inning, including pitcher Johnny Cueto’s leadoff infield single. Votto hit a sacrifice fly off James Russell to trim Chicago’s lead to 3-2 and Jay Bruce followed with a bouncer down the third-base line for an RBI double.

The Cubs brought their infield in for Alonso, who hit a fly ball to medium center field. Johnson got in good position, brought it in, then fired a strong throw to catcher Koyie Hill that cut down Edgar Renteria at the plate.

“I was real fortunate,” Johnson said. “When that ball was first hit, my initial thought was it going to be too deep for me to have a chance at him, and then obviously the wind took care of the rest and just kind of allowed me to move through the play.”

Chicago got a big inning-ending double play in the sixth when Ramon Hernandez lined to shortstop Castro, who threw to LeMahieu before Alonso could get back to second base.

“We did have some chances,” Baker said. “The wind blew Alonso’s ball back far enough to throw (Renteria) out, and the ball Joey hit, on a normal day, that’s a grand slam.

“We were smitten by the prevailing winds at Wrigley Field today.”

Dempster allowed 10 hits — matching a season high — and is winless in his last five starts.

Cueto retired 11 of his first 12 batters before running into a bit of trouble in the fifth. Pena led off with a double to right-center for Chicago’s second hit. He moved up on a wild pitch and scored on LeMahieu’s tying two-out single, but Cueto got Hill to fly out to end the inning.

The Cubs added two runs in the sixth on Ramirez’s clutch double. Castro sparked the rally with an infield hit on a dribbler up the third-base line. Johnson singled to center before Ramirez hit a drive into the corner in left to make it 3-1.

Cueto allowed seven hits in seven innings and his ERA increased from 2.29 to 2.36, still good enough to lead the majors.

“I want to (win it),” Cueto said through an interpreter about the ERA title. “I put all my best to get it done. Sometimes you throw seven innings and instead of going down, it goes up.”

NOTES: Reds RHP Mike Leake will make one more start this season. Baker said the team will use a six-man rotation for one turn, inserting RHP Edinson Volquez, then Leake will drop out. Leake had 138 1/3 innings last year as a rookie and is up to 159 2/3 already this season. … The Cubs are off Thursday before opening a weekend series at the New York Mets. RHP Casey Coleman (2-7, 6.61 ERA) is scheduled to face Mets RHP Mike Pelfrey (7-11, 4.68) on Friday night. … The Reds are off Thursday, then begin a three-game series at Colorado on Friday night. Reds RHP Homer Bailey (7-7, 4.57 ERA) and Rockies RHP Jhoulys Chacin (11-10, 3.60 ERA) will meet in the opener.