CINCINNATI -- The Reds couldn't come up with the big hit until it was too late Saturday night. Alfonso Soriano, meanwhile, had three before the seventh-inning stretch. The first put the Reds behind, the second added some padding and the third officially made it Soriano's night, as the Cubs left fielder hit three home runs to help push Chicago past the Reds, 14-9, before a sellout crowd at Great American Ball Park.
All told, the Reds tied their season high for runs allowed and gave up five homers to the Cubs, who snapped their season-long six-game losing streak in the biggest of ways at the Reds' expense. "Their bats were smoking tonight," manager Dusty Baker said. In Johnny Cueto's first start since he went down with a posterior right elbow strain on Aug. 24, the 22-year-old rookie's stuff was, in fact, smoking. He had no problems registering the standard 95-96 mph on his fastball and didn't have any trouble throwing strikes. But after two scoreless innings, Cueto couldn't escape an inning -- more specifically, Soriano -- without allowing some type of damage. With two down and no one on in the third inning, Soriano made Cueto pay for leaving a fastball up in the zone by launching it over the left-field fence for his first homer of the night. Soriano did it again in the fifth, this time with Cueto's second-pitch slider, which staked the Cubs to a 3-1 lead. "I was trying to throw the ball inside, but it ended up in a bad location," Cueto said through bullpen coach and interpreter Mike Stefanski. "I made some bad pitches." In the sixth inning, Cueto retired the first batter before walking Mark DeRosa and giving up a single to Reed Johnson, which ended his night after 5 1/3 innings and 84 pitches. "Cueto threw the ball well," Baker said, "except to Soriano." He wasn't the only one. After putting the Cubs left fielder behind in the count 0-2, Jared Burton left a slider down-and-in where Soriano likes it most. He promptly sent it to the same area in the left-center-field stands where the first two landed, and the Cubs went up 6-1. "That's one of the best nights I've seen since Joey Votto hit three home runs against them," Baker said, referring to the Reds' rookie first baseman's big night in May. "It was just too much Soriano tonight. "When he gets hot, he hits everything." Unlike the night before, when they tattooed the Cubs in seemingly every scoring situation, the Reds just couldn't rough up Jason Marquis. The opportunities, though, certainly presented themselves -- early on, at least. The Reds left the bases loaded in the second and fourth innings, coming away with just one run in the process. Chris Dickerson's bases-loaded walk accounted for Cincinnati's only tally until Chicago had already hit double digits. From there, the Reds' bats went silent, as the Cubs added insurance in the form of DeRosa's seventh-inning three-run homer off Burton, a solo shot from Marquis and a Derrek Lee RBI double off Gary Majewski in the eighth. Right-handed reliever Mike Lincoln helped add to the deficit when he allowed a bases-loaded two-run single to Lee and another RBI single to Mike Fontenot, before cutting the Cubs off at 14. In 3 2/3 innings of work, Burton, Majewski and Lincoln combined to give up nine runs (two more inherited) on 10 hits. "These guys have been pitching a lot," Baker said. "An awful lot." But the Cubs' penchant for pouring it on actually served a purpose on this night, as the Reds picked up four runs in the eighth inning off Jeff Samardzija. Two runs came across on Corey Patterson's two-run single -- aided by a Lee error -- and two more came across on Paul Bako's double to center field. After the Reds loaded the bases with no outs against Michael Wuertz in the ninth inning, Jolbert Cabrera's first career grand slam off Carlos Marmol brought Cincinnati within five runs. But it was far from enough to make up for a sloppy night from the Reds' bullpen. "We beat them up pretty good last night, and they beat us up pretty good tonight," Baker said. "Let's hope it's an every other day program."
Andrew Gribble is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.