CINCINNATI (AP) -- Chicago feels right at home in Cincinnati,
where there always are lots of Cubs' fans and batters find it easy
to hit home runs.
"This ballpark is really good for the type of team we have,"
Chicago manager Dusty Baker said Friday night after a 12-4 victory
over the Cincinnati Reds extended the Cubs' winning streak to five.
On a night after Aramis Ramirez homered three times, three
different Cubs had one each. Derrek Lee drove in five runs with a
three-run homer and a two-run double, and Ben Grieve homered and
drove in three runs.
Even Carlos Zambrano (14-8) homered, the third of his career and
the first since July 2003 at Houston.
"Right now I'm focused on getting to the playoffs," said
Zambrano, who won for the third time in four decisions. "That's my
He allowed six hits -- two off his bare right hand -- in seven
innings, struck out five and walked three.
Baker said he winced when he saw Zambrano try to field a ball
with his bare hand.
"Those are always frightening," Baker said. "I suppose it's a
natural reaction to stick your hand out there. I've seen guys break
their hand that way."
Chicago, 7-4 against Cincinnati this season, remained a
half-game behind San Francisco in the wild-card race.
"Things are clicking," Lee said of the Cubs, who have won five
in a row four times this year. "It seems that one guy every night
is having a good night, and that's what it takes."
Luke Hudson (3-2) gave up three runs, four hits and four walks
in four innings -- he needed 41 pitches to get through the fourth,
when the Cubs batted around.
Hudson allowed one hit in the first three innings, then got in
trouble in the fourth, when the Cubs built a 3-0 lead on Lee's
double and Michael Barrett's sacrifice fly.
"They got a couple of hits right off the bat on pitches that
weren't too bad, then they got the two-RBI double on one of those
at-bats where he saw a lot of fastballs," Hudson said.
"After that, I started trying to pick a little bit too much. I
was trying to throw the perfect pitch. I was yanking my curveball
low and away to right-handers and low and in to left-handers. The
same thing with the fastball. I was trying to make the perfect
pitch when I didn't have to."
Lee hit his 31st homer, matching his career high, in the fifth,
and Zambrano homered in the sixth. Sean Casey homered for the Reds
leading off the bottom half, making it 7-1.
"They're trying to bury teams right now, and we don't have much
of a margin of error," Casey said. "We have to play error-free
ball and pitch well, and we weren't able to do that tonight."
Chicago batted around in the eighth, when Grieve hit a two-run,
Walker hit a run-scoring single off Todd Van Poppel.
D'Angelo Jimenez's RBI double, Willie Mo Pena's run-scoring
single and Corky Miller RBI grounder cut the gap against Todd
Wellemeyer in the eighth.
Grieve homered off Van Poppel in the ninth.Game notes
Ramirez is 6-for-9 in the series. ... Casey is one home run
short of his 1999 career high of 25. ... With one Florida
doubleheader behind them and another scheduled for Monday, the Cubs
play 26 games in 24 days. ... Freel, who has started at five
positions this year, was in RF in place of slumping Austin Kearns.
- Home Plate Umpire - Andy Fletcher
- First Base Umpire - Tim Welke
- Second Base Umpire - Gary Cederstrom
- Third Base Umpire - Jim Reynolds