Cubs 5, Reds 4

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CHICAGO (AP)—Booed after a pair of strikeouts, Sammy Sosa delivered an important home run and a much-needed win to the Cubs.

Sosa hit a go-ahead homer in the seventh inning following a rain delay, and Chicago overcame a two-run deficit Wednesday in a 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds that stopped a three-game losing streak.

Jeered by fans twice earlier after striking out with runners on base, Sosa hit his 18th homer of the year off Todd Van Poppel (3-4). It was only Chicago’s fourth win in its last 13 games.

“He threw me a high pitch, and I made my mind up to go out there and swing,” said Sosa, who homered during a light rain. “We’re not struggling. We just lost a couple of games. We are competitors. We come here every day and try to do our job. Sometimes it’s not going to be the way you want it.”

The crowd let Sosa hear it when he struck out in the first with a runner on first base. The boos were even louder in the fifth when Sosa whiffed with a runner on first.

“It’s not disappointing, but it’s something that surprised me. It was like, ‘Wow. What have I done?”’ Sosa said. “They want you to come through. It’s not going to happen every time they wish.”

Todd Wellemeyer (1-0) pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings, and LaTroy Hawkins pitched the ninth for his 13th save in 17 chances.

Wellemeyer stranded the bases loaded in the seventh when he threw a called third strike past John Vander Wal in the pouring rain just before a 54-minute delay.

Vander Wal had fouled off three straight 3-2 pitches, then took a high fastball he was certain was a ball. Vander Wal flipped his bat toward the dugout and started trotting to first when umpire Brian Runge called him out on strikes.

“It was pretty difficult to swallow when a ball is obviously a ball and everybody knows it,” Vander Wal said. “It changed the outcome of the game.”

Chicago had lost back-to-back tight games to the first-place St. Louis Cardinals and had fallen into third place in the NL Central.

“Hopefully it can be a turning point,” Cubs starter Matt Clement said. “You lose that game, and the negatives just keep going.”

Derrek Lee and Moises Alou hit two-run homers for Chicago, which is finally getting healthy after months of injury troubles.

Wily Mo Pena and Jason LaRue hit solo homers for the Reds, who outhit the Cubs 10-6, and D’Angelo Jimenez had two RBIs.

Cincinnati’s Paul Wilson worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first when Aramis Ramirez flied out to the base of the left-field wall. Wilson wound up allowing four runs and four hits in six innings with six strikeouts.

Clement, 0-5 in eight starts since June 8, gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings with seven strikeouts.

Jimenez hit a two-run single with two outs in the first, but Alou’s 22nd home tied the score in the third.

Pena homered in the fourth, his 14th of the season and seventh in 10 games, and LaRue homered two batters later for a 4-2 lead. Lee hit his 16th homer in the sixth inning, his fourth in seven games.

“Certainly, this is one of the few days in a long time that all three have really come through,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “Hopefully, it will get us back on a winning note.”


Chicago traded INF Ricky Gutierrez to Boston for a player to be named or cash. The Cubs recalled RHP Jon Leicester from Triple-A Iowa and optioned RHP Francis Beltran to the minors. Leicester went 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA in 13 2-3 innings with the Cubs earlier in the season. … Jimenez extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a first-inning single. It’s the longest hitting streak of the season for the Reds. … Former Cubs 1B Bill Buckner, who won the 1980 batting title with Chicago, was honored before the game and sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch. … Reds batters struck out 12 times. … Each starter threw exactly 100 pitches.

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