This much is certain: they haven't been at a point like this in 11 years.
Arroyo threw five-hit ball over seven innings in another dominant effort against the Cubs, and Cincinnati beat Chicago 3-0 Friday to move 14 games over .500 for the first time since 1999.
|Reds at Cubs|
The Reds got a two-run homer from Ryan Hanigan off Tom Gorzelanny (6-6) in the second, an RBI single from Brandon Phillips in the seventh and came away with their seventh win in nine games after Francisco Cordero survived a shaky ninth.
"We're much better than we've been in the last four years," said Arroyo, in his fifth season with Cincinnati. "We have depth at every position that we've never had before."
After nine straight losing years, the Reds are 14 games over .500 for the first time since they went 96-67 in 1999. And the last time the NL Central leaders led their division this late was the final week of that season.
The Cubs fell out of contention long ago and once again couldn't get anything going against Arroyo (12-6) after pounding Milwaukee 15-3 on Wednesday.
The right-hander held them scoreless for the second time this season, striking out seven and walking one. He is 5-0 with a 1.88 ERA in his past six starts against them, including a win last month in which he went six innings.
Arthur Rhodes retired the side in the eighth.
That gave Cordero 30 saves in 36 chances -- the fourth straight year and sixth time overall he's finished with 30 or more.
"To win these close games -- have guys go deep in the game, have the bullpen come in for just two innings like that -- that's big," Hanigan said.
Gorzelanny settled down after a wild start and held the Reds to three runs and four hits over seven innings. He hit a batter and walked four -- all in the first three innings. But he also retired 12 straight before a one-out single in the seventh by Paul Janish, who scored from second on a base hit by Phillips that made it 3-0.
Hanigan supplied the big hit in the second after Jay Bruce's leadoff walk, lining an 0-1 pitch to the seats in left-center for his third homer.
Arroyo did not allow a hit until Ramirez singled to deep short with two outs in the fourth on a ball that bounced passed a sprawled out third baseman Scott Rolen.
Ramirez, who was slow to get out of the box, moved to second on a single by Marlon Byrd before Fukudome grounded into a force to end the threat.
The Cubs had runners on second and third with none out in the fifth after back-to-back singles by DeWitt and Geovany Soto and a wild pitch. But Arroyo got out of it by striking out Gorzelanny, retiring Tyler Colvin on a bloop to short and getting Starlin Castro swinging at a 3-2 curve.
"We haven't given up, we're not going to give up," Byrd said.
The Cubs are 15 games under .500 and are in for a busy offseason, with manager Lou Piniella retiring. Even so, general manager Jim Hendry again insisted they're not far from contending in the future with promising young players such as Castro and Colvin.
"It's not some kind of a major rebuilding job," Hendry said. "When you start seeing the improvement in the young people we have and the type of young arms we have - you make three or four solid moves in the offseason and your young guys keep developing, you're right back into a contending team."
- Cubs pitcher Carlos Silva is scheduled to have his heart examined on Monday and might have a procedure to correct a problem with his heartbeat. The Cubs say the examination will determine if he needs a cardiac ablation to correct the issue. According to the Mayo Clinic, that procedure usually involves running a catheter from the groin to the heart. It can also be done through open-heart surgery.
- Reds manager Dusty Baker said Russ Springer's strained left hip is still sore and isn't sure if the reliever will wind up on the DL. Springer left after facing three batters against Pittsburgh on Wednesday in his second appearance after being called up from Triple-A. He signed a minor-league deal with the Reds on July 17.