Reds 7, Cubs 5

By Chris Rewers on Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hero: Kosuke Fukudome (1-for-3), who continues to sizzle in August, hit a two-run, game-tying homer off reliever Arthur Rhodes in the eighth inning. Fukudome, who is hitting .274 on the season, is hitting .367 with a 1.081 OPS in August.

Goat: Aramis Ramirez went 1-for-5 and demonstrated that his matador-style defense isn't limited to fielding grounders.

Key Play: With the score tied at 5 in the bottom of the eighth and Chris Heisey on first with one out, Ramon Hernandez singled to right. As Heisey aggressively rounded second and sprinted toward third, Fukudome charged the ball and attempted to throw out Heisey. The throw was on the bag, but shorthopped Ramirez. Instead of blocking the throw with his body, Ramirez made a weak, unsuccessful attempt to backhand it. It also eluded Sean Marshall (6-5), who was backing up on the play, and landed in the Cubs dugout. Heisey jogged home with the go-ahead run.

Comments: The first-place Reds (75-55), beginning to look like they are closing in on their first NL Central title since 1995, took 12 of 16 from the Cubs (55-76) and increased their NL Central lead to five games over the fading Cardinals.

Leadoff hitter Jeff Baker, Starlin Castro, Marlon Byrd, Xavier Nady, and Geovany Soto each contributed two hits to the Cubs' 14-hit attack, but the Cubs stranded 10 baserunners, including a golden bases-loaded, one-out opportunity in the first against Cincinnati starter Travis Wood. That chance was squandered when Nady struck out and Alfonso Soriano flied out to center.

Next: Hall of Famer Andre Dawson will be honored Monday (CSN, 7:05 p.m.) before a less-than-attractive matchup with the cellar-dwelling Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field. Plenty of good seats are available.

The Pirates are 43-87 but have dominated the Cubs this season, winning nine of the 12 contests between the teams. Pittsburgh is just 13-51 on the road this season, but twice has taken two of three at the Friendly Confines.

Carlos Zambrano (5-6, 4.64 ERA), who will start for the Cubs, is coming off a terrific outing last week at Washington in which he allowed just one run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings.

Left-hander Paul Maholm (7-12, 4.82), who will go for the Pirates, has won his two previous starts against the Cubs this season.

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