Cincinnati Reds

Cincy sweeps, gets ready for St. Louis

Cincinnati's Joey Votto watched his two-run homer fly over the left-field bleachers and out of Wrigley Field.
Cincinnati's Joey Votto watched his two-run homer fly over the left-field bleachers and out of Wrigley Field. AP

CHICAGO — The Cincinnati Reds didn't want to think about their series with the St. Louis Cardinals until they finished off the Cubs.

They'll go into it with plenty of momentum.

Joey Votto and Jonny Gomes scored four runs apiece to back a strong start by Travis Wood, and the Reds beat the Cubs 11-4 on Sunday for their ninth win in 11 games.

"We're playing good right now," Gomes said. "Coming into a hostile environment and being able to take three from the Cubs shows a lot about the character of this team."

Wood (3-1) took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before fading late. Votto backed him with a two-run homer in the eighth and had two hits, and Gomes set a career-high with four walks and came around each time. He also singled late in the game but did not score.

Jay Bruce added three hits, including a two-run double in the first, and the Reds banged out 13 in all while handing Chicago its 10th loss in 11 games.

Things figure to get a little tougher for the NL Central leaders, with a three-game series against second-place St. Louis at Great American Ball Park starting Monday. The Reds lead the Cardinals by two games.

"It's time," Manager Dusty Baker said. "They had been wanting us to focus on it but we had to focus on the Cubs. To come in here and get a sweep in Chicago is big for us."

Wood, who retired the first 24 batters against Philadelphia on July 10, had another no-hit bid going before Koyie Hill's one-out single in the sixth. He lost the shutout when Jeff Baker led off a four-run seventh by driving the first pitch out to center for his fourth homer and eventually got chased after a one-out double by Xavier Nady that cut the lead to 8-4.

Before that, Wood was looking good. He wound up allowing four runs and just four hits, although the Cubs flied out to the warning track six times against him.

Chicago's Thomas Diamond (0-2) lasted just three innings and allowed five runs and four hits in his second major-league start. He walked three and hit one, and had one strikeout after getting 10 against Milwaukee on Tuesday and tying Mark Prior for the most by a debuting Cubs rookie since 1920.

There were several lapses in the field, including a throwing error by shortstop Starlin Castro in the first and a bases-loaded pop fly into the sun that dropped between center fielder Marlon Byrd, right fielder Nady and Castro that allowed a run to score.

Nady also dropped a run-scoring triple by Miguel Cairo in the ninth after he apparently lost the ball in the sun.

Notes

■ Baker said he's sticking with closer Francisco Cordero after pulling him during a rough ninth Saturday. "We've got 63 wins and he's got 30 saves," Baker said. "How many other closers have that ratio of saves to wins for a team?"

■ Carlos Zambrano will be limited to 75 to 80 pitches Monday at San Francisco when he makes his first start in six weeks, Cubs Manager Lou Piniella said. The former ace was suspended, sent to anger-management counseling and banished to the bullpen after a June 25 dugout tirade.

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