Bruce’s walk-off HR lifts Reds over Cubs

Published 1:19 am Friday, September 16, 2011

The Associated Press

CINCINNATI — Jay Bruce’s first game-ending home run of the season didn’t have the impact of his last one. Still it reminded the Reds of the success they had a year ago.

Bruce hit a two-run homer in the 11th inning that lifted the Cincinnati Reds to an 8-6 win over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night.

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The right fielder’s last game-winner came 50 weeks ago off Houston’s Tim Byrdak on Sept. 28 to clinch the Central Division title.

“They’re awesome,” Bruce said. “It shows resiliency. It shows we haven’t given up. That’s my third walk off. The other two were in tighter situations but they’ve all been great.”

Bruce’s first career home run was a game-ender.

Joey Votto led off the 11th against James Russell (1-6) with a double to left-center field. Bruce connected on the next pitch for his 31st homer of the season, giving the Reds their third straight win over Chicago after losing the opener of the four-game series.

Nick Masset (3-5) pitched the 11th for the win.

The Cubs handed Francisco Cordero his first blown save since July 10 by scoring twice in the ninth to make it 6-all. Tony Campana led off with a pinch-hit single and scored on pinch-hitter Alfonso Soriano’s double. One out later, Darwin Barney chopped a tying single.

Cordero had successfully converted 16 consecutive save opportunities since the All-Star break.

“We wanted to get Homer the win,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We figured he’d had enough. You hate to see Cordero’s streak end but we’ll take the win.”

Reds starter Homer Bailey, who hadn’t allowed more than two home runs in any of his previous 19 starts this season, gave up a pair in a span of four batters in the first inning.

“You come out there and you don’t expect it to be 40 degrees,” Bailey said. “I made some pretty good pitches in that inning but they hit them.”

Aramis Ramirez singled with two outs and Carlos Pena followed with his 28th home run of the season, a majestic 461-foot drive on a 3-2 pitch that landed in a party area on top of the center field batter’s eye.

Bryan LaHair kept the inning going with a single to center, extending his career-opening hitting streak to nine games, and Marlon Byrd hit the first pitch 414 feet into the Cincinnati bullpen in left-center field.

Bailey settled down and lasted six innings, giving up six hits and four runs with three walks and nine strikeouts, matching his season high.

“I found the release point that I needed,” Bailey said.

Brandon Phillips hit his 16th home run, and fourth of the four-game series, in the third to cut Chicago’s lead to 4-1. Chris Heisey hit his 17th homer, and second in two nights, in the Reds fourth.

The Reds scored three times in the fifth. Bailey started the rally with a one-out single. Phillips doubled and Drew Stubbs hit an RBI single just over the glove of a leaping Starlin Castro at shortstop.

Votto walked to load the bases, and Wells walked Yonder Alonso to force in the tying run. Jeff Samardzija relieved Wells and got Heisey to hit a sharp one-hopper that glanced off the pitcher’s foot to Castro, whose throw to first wasn’t in time, allowing Stubbs to score the go-ahead run.

The Reds reached Randy Wells for seven hits and five runs with two walks and three strikeouts in 4 1-3 innings. He also threw a wild pitch.

“Some nights you just get beat,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “It’s tough we played hard. Wells change up deserted him a little bit.”

The Reds added a run in the sixth when Paul Janish drew a leadoff walk, moved to third on Stubbs’ two-out single and scored on reliever John Gaub’s wild pitch.

NOTES: Soriano’s double was the 400th of his career. … Reds RHP Bronson Arroyo, scheduled to start against Milwaukee in Friday’s series opener, is coming off the shortest start of his career. He failed to get an out in the second inning of Cincinnati’s 12-7 loss Saturday at Colorado. … Cubs RHP Matt Garza is 2-0 with a 2.53 ERA over his last three starts going into his appearance Friday against Houston at Chicago.