Cincinnati at Chicago

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Cincinnati (44-52)100000002371
Chi. Cubs (50-45) «30001001x5100

Ramirez belts another homer, helps Cubs edge struggling Reds

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

CHICAGO -- Aramis Ramirez is looking better and so are the Chicago Cubs, even though they keep losing injured players.

On a day when Ted Lilly went on the disabled list and Derrek Lee left the game with back spasms, Ramirez came through with another big blow that should ease concerns about his dislocated left shoulder.

Ramirez hit his second homer in two days and the Cubs beat the struggling Cincinnati Reds 5-3 on Saturday for their ninth victory in 12 games.

"I feel good at the plate right now," Ramirez said.

Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley added solo shots to back a strong start by Kevin Hart (2-1) and send the Reds to their fifth straight loss.

  Cubs place Lilly on DL

Ramirez gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead in the first with a two-run drive after compiling four hits the previous game. He is 8 for 13 in his last three games after hitting .190 in his first 11 back following a nearly two-month absence due to a separated shoulder.

Soriano added his 17th homer in the fifth off Johnny Cueto, and Bradley, after getting booed, connected against David Weathers in the eighth for his first career pinch-hit homer.

That was enough for Hart, who allowed one run over six innings in place of the injured Lilly to win his second consecutive start.

Hart got plenty of advice from Lilly.

"He was sitting right next to me all day in the dugout talking to me about pitch selection," Hart said.

Lilly went on the DL before the game with inflammation in his left shoulder, and Lee left before the top of the eighth. The first baseman said his back spasms weren't serious.

The Cubs, meanwhile, are starting to look like the serious contenders they expected to be. Minor league call-ups such as Randy Wells, Jake Fox and now Hart are giving big contributions and stars such as Ramirez and Soriano are starting to come around.

"Everybody's stepping up," Lee said. "That's what it's going to take to get through injuries. I think we have a good team and we're starting to show it."

The Reds got solo homers from Joey Votto and Jonny Gomes in the ninth off Aaron Heilman that made it 5-3 before Kevin Gregg came on to retire Jerry Hairston Jr. for his 20th save in 23 chances.

It was another rough day for the Reds.

"We're down and [if] we're going to continue to play the way we've been playing, shoot, we're going to be right behind the Pirates," said Brandon Phillips, who went 1 for 3 and had his 100th career steal.

Manager Dusty Baker added: "We're just in a bad way right now. Not playing real good, a lot of things aren't going our way."

Cueto (8-7) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings while falling to 0-3 in his last four starts.

He barely made it out of the first after Cincinnati scored a run in the top half. Lee hit an RBI triple that was misplayed by right fielder Chris Dickerson, and then Ramirez went deep.

That set the tone for the Cubs on a day when their lone All-Star went on the DL and another key player had to leave the game.

Lilly also expects to have arthroscopic knee surgery Monday and likely won't be back until at least mid-August, a major blow for a team that began the day 1½ games behind NL Central leader St. Louis.

His fill-in wasn't bad, though.

Making his third start, the 26-year-old Hart allowed five hits after having his turn moved up a day. He even saved a run in the fourth with a neat barehand stab on Edwin Encarnacion's chopper with a runner on third, drawing cheers from a crowd that let out a few groans when the Reds scored first.

"Just a reaction play," Hart said.

Notes

  • With Lilly on the DL, the Cubs called up right-handed reliever Justin Berg from Triple-A Iowa. Manager Lou Piniella said he considered putting Sean Marshall in the rotation, but that would have left the bullpen without a lefty. Piniella also thought about starting Jeff Samardzija on Sunday rather than move the rest of the rotation up a day. Instead, Rich Harden will start Sunday, with Carlos Zambrano pitching Monday against Houston.
  • Reds C Ryan Hanigan was a late scratch from the lineup because of a stiff neck. Craig Tatum started in his place.
 
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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Aramis Ramirez watches the flight of his second homer in as many days, a two-run shot in the first inning. (AP)
Aramis Ramirez watches the flight of his second homer in as many days, a two-run shot in the first inning. (AP)

Players of the Game
Cincinnati

J. Votto
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
Chicago

A. Ramirez
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
 

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Cincinnati Reds
Chris Dickerson, RF4010021 .263
Willy Taveras, CF4110010 .249
Joey Votto, 1B3122000 .353
Brandon Phillips, 2B3010101 .271
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B4000003 .205
Jonny Gomes, LF4111021 .292
Jerry Hairston Jr., SS4010020 .253
Craig Tatum, C3000001 .000
Johnny Cueto, P1000000 .121
    Arthur Rhodes, P0000000 .000
   a- Adam Rosales, PH1000010 .206
    David Weathers, P0000000 .000
Totals3137318  
a-struck out for Rhodes in the 8th
Batting
2B - Joey Votto (16, Hart)
HR - Joey Votto (14, Heilman), Jonny Gomes (8, Heilman)
SF - Joey Votto (1)
SH - Johnny Cueto (4)
RBI - Joey Votto 2 (48), Jonny Gomes (21)
2-OUT RBI - Jonny Gomes (7)
SB - Willy Taveras 2 (21, 2nd base off Hart/Hill, 3rd base off Hart/Hill), Brandon Phillips (16, 2nd base off Hart/Hill)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Encarnacion-B. Phillips-Votto
E - Johnny Cueto (1, Misplayed grounder)
Cincinnati Reds
Johnny Cueto (L,8-7) 6944342 3.78
Arthur Rhodes 1000030 1.62
David Weathers 1111011 3.15
HBP - Johnson (by Johnny Cueto)
Pitches-Strikes - Johnny Cueto 105-62, Arthur Rhodes 17-12, David Weathers 9-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Johnny Cueto 5-9
Batters Faced - Johnny Cueto 31, Arthur Rhodes 3, David Weathers 4
Chicago Cubs
Reed Johnson, CF4110001 .248
Ryan Theriot, SS4010001 .298
Derrek Lee, 1B4121001 .285
    Jake Fox, 1B0000000 .322
Aramis Ramirez, 3B3112112 .325
Kosuke Fukudome, RF4010011 .266
Alfonso Soriano, LF4131010 .251
Mike Fontenot, 2B3000122 .233
Koyie Hill, C3000123 .195
Kevin Hart, P2000016 .167
   a- Micah Hoffpauir, PH1000000 .238
    Angel Guzman, P0000000 .000
    Carlos Marmol, P0000000 .000
   b- Milton Bradley, PH1111000 .246
    Aaron Heilman, P0000000 .000
    Kevin Gregg, P0000000 .000
Totals33510538  
a-grounded out for Hart in the 6th
b-homered for Marmol in the 8th
Batting
2B - Reed Johnson (7, Cueto)
3B - Derrek Lee (1, Cueto)
HR - Aramis Ramirez (7, Cueto), Alfonso Soriano (17, Cueto), Milton Bradley (7, Weathers)
SH - Ryan Theriot (8)
RBI - Derrek Lee (63), Aramis Ramirez 2 (25), Alfonso Soriano (40), Milton Bradley (23)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Reed Johnson 1
Chicago Cubs
Kevin Hart (W,2-1) 6511140 2.08
Angel Guzman (H,10) 1000010 2.45
Carlos Marmol (H,23) 1000030 3.17
Aaron Heilman 0.2222002 4.50
Kevin Gregg (S,20) 0.1000000 3.45
Pitches-Strikes - Kevin Hart 94-56, Angel Guzman 11-8, Carlos Marmol 17-14, Aaron Heilman 14-10, Kevin Gregg 4-2
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kevin Hart 7-6, Angel Guzman 1-1, Aaron Heilman 2-0, Kevin Gregg 1-0
Batters Faced - Kevin Hart 23, Angel Guzman 3, Carlos Marmol 3, Aaron Heilman 4, Kevin Gregg 1
Game Information
Attendance - 41364
Game Time - 2:46
Temperature - 75
Umpires - Home - Chuck Meriwether, First Base - Laz Diaz, Second Base - Eric Cooper, Third Base - Mike Reilly