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Chicago at Cincinnati

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Chi. Cubs (85-77)121000000480
Cincinnati (72-90) «00440000x891

Soriano sets September HR mark for Cubs in loss to Reds

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CINCINNATI -- With their leadoff hitter playing like Mr. September, the Chicago Cubs feel good about the month that comes next -- the one where they've failed for the last 98 years.

Could this finally be a team for October?

Alfonso Soriano set a club record with his 14th homer in September, and the NL Central champions headed into the playoffs following an 8-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday that amounted to a light workout.

Now, the quest for a World Series begins again.

The Cubs will open their first playoffs since 2003 in Arizona on Wednesday, with Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly pitching the first two games. The Cubs went 2-4 against the Diamondbacks this season.

"This is a game where if a team gets hot at the right time and gets on a roll, anything can happen," said Lilly, who threw 21 pitches Sunday in two perfect innings. "I feel if we play our baseball, we can win the Series."

After clinching the division title on Friday, the Cubs used the last two games to rest and stay sharp. They used eight pitchers on Sunday, treating it like the final game of spring training.

Joey Votto drove in a career-high five runs and hit a three-run homer off closer Ryan Dempster (2-7) in the fourth inning. The Reds ended a seven-game losing streak on the final day of their losing season.

Cincinnati hoped to contend in baseball's weakest division, but got off to the worst start in the majors and fired manager Jerry Narron. The Reds went 41-39 under interim manager Pete Mackanin, whose status will be one of the team's first major decisions in the offseason.

"It's always nice to go out a winner, but I don't think it's going to impact whether I get the job," Mackanin said.

Rookie Homer Bailey (4-2), the franchise's most promising pitching prospect, settled down once the Cubs removed their regulars from the game. Soriano went 3-for-3 off Bailey, who gave up four runs, eight hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings.

Chicago didn't much care.

The Cubs left town with frothy memories of what they hope will be the first of several champagne celebrations in 2007. They also had another year in mind: 1908, the last time they won a World Series.

After a near-century of suffering, they have a manager who has a collection of championship rings and knows a thing or two about what it takes to get them. Lou Piniella won two World Series as a Yankees player and another as manager of the 1990 Reds.

He has a good feeling about this team.

"We've got as good a chance as anybody else," Piniella said. "We're built for the short-term as well as the long haul.

"We've got a veteran team, basically. We've got some pitchers in the rotation that can keep you in the ballgame, and a strong bullpen that can close you out. Basically, what it amounts to is how well you hit."

No one is doing that better these days than Soriano.

The cornerstone of the Cubs' $300 million offseason overhaul, Soriano has been at his best down the stretch. The left fielder opened Sunday's game with his 14th homer of September, eclipsing Ernie Banks' previous mark from 1957.

"I'm very happy to have the record," Soriano said. "Everybody knows who Ernie Banks is. But I'm really excited to be back in the playoffs."

His seventh leadoff homer in September also was the most by any major league player in any month. Soriano singled home a pair of runs in the second, then received a standing ovation from the thousands of Cubs fans when he left after his fourth-inning double.

"September is a big month, and he stepped up," first baseman Derrek Lee said. "He ignites our offense."

Right-hander Jason Marquis, under consideration as a fourth starter in the playoffs, gave up a run-scoring single to Ryan Hanigan in the third that ended Cincinnati's streak of 20 innings without a run. Votto followed with a two-run double.

When it ended, the Cubs were thinking about how far they've come and how it will help with what comes next.

"We've been in a lot of situations that you don't want to be in, but we were," outfielder Cliff Floyd said, referring to Chicago's 8½-game deficit in June. "Fortunately, I think that does help you. We went through a lot of adversity, but we stuck together. We've come together."

Notes

  • Three Cubs remain from their 2003 playoff team: 3B Aramis Ramirez and pitchers Zambrano and Kerry Wood.
  • The Cubs hit 43 homers in September, tied for the fifth-most in any month in franchise history.
  • Soriano is batting .383 in his last 14 games.
  • The Reds won their final game of the season for the first time since 1998.
  • The Reds finished with their third 90-loss season in the last seven years. They haven't had a winning record since 2000, the year Ken Griffey Jr. joined the team.
  • The 21-year-old Bailey made nine starts and had a 5.76 ERA.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Alfonso Soriano rounds the bases for a 14th time in September, breaking Ernie Banks' team record.  (AP)
Alfonso Soriano rounds the bases for a 14th time in September, breaking Ernie Banks' team record. (AP)

Players of the Game
Cincinnati

J. Votto
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 5
Chicago

A. Soriano
AB 3
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 3
 
Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano, LF3133000 .299
    Sam Fuld, PR-RF1000100 .000
Mike Fontenot, 2B4000115 .278
Derrek Lee, 1B2110001 .317
    Henry Blanco, 1B3000002 .167
Cliff Floyd, RF1000101 .284
    Matt Murton, RF-LF2000000 .281
Aramis Ramirez, 3B2000002 .310
    Mark DeRosa, 3B2000000 .293
Jacque Jones, CF2121000 .285
    Felix Pie, CF2000011 .215
Ronny Cedeno, SS4010012 .203
Jason Kendall, C1110100 .242
    Geovany Soto, C2000001 .389
Ted Lilly, P0000000 .137
    Jason Marquis, P0000000 .139
    Will Ohman, P0000000 .000
   a- Daryle Ward, PH1000011 .327
    Ryan Dempster, P0000000 .000
    Kerry Wood, P0000000 .000
   b- Craig Monroe, PH1000011 .219
    Michael Wuertz, P0000000 .000
    Carlos Marmol, P1000000 .000
    Bob Howry, P0000000 .000
Totals3448445  
a-struck out for Ohman in the 4th
b-struck out for Wood in the 6th
Batting
2B - Alfonso Soriano (42, Bailey), Derrek Lee (43, Bailey), Jacque Jones (33, Bailey)
HR - Alfonso Soriano (33, Bailey)
SH - Ted Lilly (3)
RBI - Alfonso Soriano 3 (70), Jacque Jones (66)
2-OUT RBI - Alfonso Soriano 2 (29), Jacque Jones (37)
Team LOB - 8
Chicago Cubs
Ted Lilly 2000010 3.83
Jason Marquis 0.2444120 4.60
Will Ohman 0.1000010 4.95
Ryan Dempster (L,2-7) 1444001 4.73
Kerry Wood 1100030 3.33
Michael Wuertz 1000000 3.48
Carlos Marmol 1000010 1.43
Bob Howry 1000020 3.32
HBP - Encarnacion (by Jason Marquis), Encarnacion (by Carlos Marmol)
WP - Kerry Wood (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Ted Lilly 21-15, Jason Marquis 31-17, Will Ohman 4-3, Ryan Dempster 21-12, Kerry Wood 14-10, Michael Wuertz 10-7, Carlos Marmol 19-12, Bob Howry 18-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ted Lilly 1-4, Ryan Dempster 1-2, Michael Wuertz 2-1
Batters Faced - Ted Lilly 6, Jason Marquis 8, Will Ohman 1, Ryan Dempster 7, Kerry Wood 4, Michael Wuertz 3, Carlos Marmol 4, Bob Howry 3
Cincinnati Reds
Jeff Keppinger, SS3100102 .332
Ryan Hanigan, C4222000 .300
Joey Votto, LF4225000 .321
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B2000000 .289
Jorge Cantu, 1B4021011 .252
Buck Coats, CF4000034 .206
Jason Ellison, RF4120021 .234
Pedro Lopez, 2B4110022 .178
Homer Bailey, P2100012 .273
    Bill Bray, P0000000 .000
   a- Norris Hopper, PH1000000 .329
    Todd Coffey, P0000000 .000
    Eddie Guardado, P0000000 .000
   b- Mark Bellhorn, PH1000010 .071
    Mike Stanton, P0000000 .000
Totals33898110  
a-grounded out for Bray in the 6th
b-struck out for Guardado in the 8th
Batting
2B - Joey Votto (7, Marquis), Jorge Cantu (9, Wood)
HR - Joey Votto (4, Dempster)
RBI - Ryan Hanigan 2 (2), Joey Votto 5 (17), Jorge Cantu (13)
2-OUT RBI - Ryan Hanigan 2 (2), Joey Votto 5 (7), Jorge Cantu (7)
SB - Jason Ellison (4, 2nd base off Marquis/Kendall)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Keppinger-Lopez-Cantu
E - Edwin Encarnacion (16, Throwing)
Cincinnati Reds
Homer Bailey (W,4-2) 5.2844451 5.76
Bill Bray (H,3) 0.1000000 6.28
Todd Coffey 1000000 5.82
Eddie Guardado 1000000 7.24
Mike Stanton 1000000 5.93
Pitches-Strikes - Homer Bailey 105-62, Bill Bray 6-3, Todd Coffey 15-9, Eddie Guardado 9-8, Mike Stanton 11-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Homer Bailey 7-4, Bill Bray 1-0, Todd Coffey 3-1, Eddie Guardado 1-2
Batters Faced - Homer Bailey 28, Bill Bray 1, Todd Coffey 4, Eddie Guardado 3, Mike Stanton 3
Game Information
Attendance - 32620
Game Time - 2:38
Temperature - 81
Umpires - Home - Jim Reynolds, First Base - Gary Cederstrom, Second Base - Lance Barksdale, Third Base - Tim Welke