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Rough 6th costs Wood quality starts streak

CINCINNATI -- In his first 2013 start at Great American Ball Park, back on April 22, Travis Wood allowed just four hits and two runs in 6 1/3 innings.

The Chicago Cubs starter was roughed up for the same number of hits and more than double the runs in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, notching just two outs in the sixth inning in his second appearance on his former home mound.

Wood, Chicago’s most consistently effective starting pitcher through the first two months of the season, saw his streak of consecutive quality starts to open the season snapped at nine. He faced seven batters in the four-run sixth, also giving up a walk while watching the Reds score a run on a suicide-squeeze bunt.

“Early on, I had it going,” said Wood, who suffered his first loss in four starts since May 2. “I got in trouble in the fourth, but was able to get out of it with just one run. The fifth was excellent, but then I lost it there in the sixth. I lost it up in the zone. I wasn’t executing. That’s a great team over there, and they made me pay for my mistakes.

“I didn’t get away from the game plan. As good as I was feeling, I kind of got out of whack.”

The Cubs took a 2-1 lead into the sixth, which Wood opened by walking Joey Votto, who went to second on Brandon Phillips' single to right. Jay Bruce popped out, but Todd Frazier grounded a game-tying single up the middle, with Phillips going to third, setting up Derrick Robinson's perfect suicide-squeeze bunt with Phillips charging down the line.

Ryan Hanigan, who hit a tie-breaking three-run homer in Cincinnati’s 7-4 win on Friday, followed with an RBI double up the left-center field gap and scored on Cesar Izturis' pinch-hit single to left, which helped push Wood’s earned-run average from 2.24 to 2.72.

Manager Dale Sveum gave Wood every opportunity to get out of the inning, but the former Red couldn’t pull it off as the Cubs pushed their season-high losing streak to six games, their longest since dropping seven straight from Sept. 22-Sept. 29 of last season. They fell to 1-7 in Cincinnati after going 2-4 there last season.

“We tried getting him through it,” Sveum said. “We got the ground ball from Frazier, but it wasn’t hit at anybody, and the squeeze bunt. We tried to get him through one more out. The bottom line is (letting the first two guys get on) in the inning will come back to bite you.

“He still pitched a good game. It just got away from him. You can’t take anything away from him. He’s done a nice job.”

Wood fell to 0-2 in four career starts against his former team. He was traded from the Reds with outfielder Dave Sappelt and infielder Ronald Torreyes for left-handed relief pitcher Sean Marshall on Dec. 23, 2011.

“It’s not tougher to pitch against them,” he said. “It’s tougher to take when they beat you like that, but you attack them, like any other team.”

Anthony Rizzo showed signs of snapping out of his mini-slump. The first baseman collected three hits, including two doubles, and figured in both of Chicago’s third-inning runs. He lined a double to deep left-center field to drive in David DeJesus with Chicago’s first run and came around to score on Alfonso Soriano's single to center. Rizzo also was thrown out at second by Shin-Soo Choo from right-center field trying to stretch a two-out single into a double in the fifth.

The Reds capitalized on Wood’s first of three walks to score their first run in the fourth. Phillips drew it with one out, went to third on Bruce’s single to right and scored on Frazier’s sacrifice fly to center.

“This team has some big boys, veterans out on the field, and their pitching is some of the best in baseball,” Sveum said. “It’s tough to score on them. We’re in all the games, but you can’t add on or score on their bullpen.”