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Cubs' Bats Wake Up In 9-4 Win Over Reds

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[May 01, 2014]  CINCINNATI  Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria has been waiting for his team to hit its stride offensively. On Wednesday night, the Cubs scored nine times, but three-plus scoreless innings by the bullpen rendered most of those runs unnecessary.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run home run, and shortstop Starlin Castro went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and an RBI, lifting the Cubs to a 9-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.

"We've had a tough time scoring runs in bunches," Renteria said. "Tonight was an example of what our club can do at times. I can't tip my hat enough to the relievers for helping us through. We have some really exciting arms."

Catcher Welington Castillo also had three hits, including a double, for Chicago (9-17), which earned a split in what became a brief two-game series following Monday's rainout.

Cubs starter Edwin Jackson (2-2) allowed four earned runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings and the bullpen backed him up with 3 1/3 scoreless innings to seal the win.

"Baseball's a crazy game," Jackson said. "Tonight I gave up three runs but the team backed me with runs and I get a win. Other nights it might be different. I was aggressive tonight, did a better job keeping the ball down. We have confidence in those guys (in the bullpen). They did a helluva job."

Right-handers Brian Schlitter, Neil Ramirez and Hector Rondon, and left-hander Wesley Wright combined to allow just two hits with no walks and four strikeouts.

"It's going to create a buzz around our division and the league that the Cubs have some power arms, and if we get the lead we're capable of shutting it down," Rizzo said.

Catcher Brayan Pena hit his first home run for Cincinnati (12-15) on Wednesday.

The Cubs were clinging to a 5-4 lead in the ninth when they added four insurance runs off left-hander Sean Marshall, two on right fielder Nate Schierholtz's two-run single.

Marshall allowed four runs (two earned) and four hits in just two-thirds of an inning.

Cincinnati's starting pitcher, lefty Tony Cingrani, allowed three earned runs and a career-high six hits in four innings. He walked two and fanned two.

"Cingrani wasn't real sharp," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "His velocity started to back down that last inning. I didn't think we should send him back out there (for the fifth) and expect different results."

Cingrani was replaced by right-hander Nick Christiani, who promptly allowed a double by left fielder Junior Lake then walked two to load the bases with no outs. Chicago scored a pair of runs on a fielder's choice and sacrifice fly to go ahead 5-3.

Christiani (0-1) allowed two runs and walked three in two innings to earn his first loss.

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"We always felt like we were in the game," Reds third baseman Todd Frazier said. "We just couldn't catch them."

The Cubs pounded Cingrani in the first inning. Immediately after Lake was retired on a fly ball to the warning track, Rizzo crushed a two-run home run 426 feet to left-center field, putting Chicago ahead 2-0.

Cincinnati tied the score 2-2 on third baseman Todd Frazier's two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the first. Right fielder Jay Bruce slid underneath Castillo's tag for the tying run. Renteria considered challenging the call but didn't.

Pena's solo homer put the Reds ahead 3-2 leading off the second. But Castro's second hit, an RBI single in the third, knotted the score yet again.

Cingrani was lifted after 79 pitches through four innings. Despite a history of back issues and a noticeable drop in velocity on Wednesday, Cingrani insisted he was fine physically.

"I'm just a little fatigued. I was laboring," Cingrani said. "I don't know what it is about the first inning. I've just got to pitch. My back is fine. I'll make some minor adjustments and see how it goes."

NOTES: Cingrani matched Yankees RHP Bill Burbach's major league mark for allowing six hits or fewer in 24 straight starts to begin his career. ... Reds LHP Aroldis Chapman is tentatively scheduled to start Thursday night and pitch one inning for Class A Dayton. It will be Chapman's first game action since being struck on the forehead with a line drive in a spring training game on March 19. ... Cubs SS Starlin Castro extended his hitting streak to five games with a first-inning double. ... Reds C Brayan Pena's second-inning homer was his first since Aug. 11, 2013, at Yankee Stadium while with the Tigers. It was his third National League homer, first since 2007 while a member of the Braves. ... Cincinnati hosts first-place Milwaukee, owners of baseball's best record, in a four-game series beginning Thursday night at Great American Ball Park. Following an off-day Thursday, the Cubs host the rival St. Louis Cardinals in a three-game set at Wrigley Field.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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