Hamilton hits pinch-hit homer to lead the Reds to 11-9 win over Cubs

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CHICAGO (AP)—After blowing a three-run lead in yet another loss, Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella was still able to make an attempt at humor.

Pinch-hitter Josh Hamilton hit a two-run, tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning and the Cincinnati Reds beat the slumping Cubs 11-9 on Wednesday night.

“It seems like we’re in a pennant race,” Piniella said. “I’m not too damn sure.”

The Cubs lost for the 10th time in 13 games but they remained 1 1/2 games behind first-place Milwaukee in the NL Central for the fifth consecutive game despite the club’s recent struggles. The Brewers lost 8-3 to the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.

“We’ve been very fortunate. We haven’t really played our best baseball over the last couple of weeks but we found a way to stay in it,” Cubs outfielder Matt Murton said.

Ryan Jorgensen, Jeff Conine and Adam Dunn homered for the Reds, who have won six of their last nine games.

Jason Kendall and Aramis Ramirez homered for the Cubs.

The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 31 minutes by rain.

With one out in the eighth, Jorgensen singled off Cubs reliever Bob Howry (5-7). Hamilton followed with his second pinch-hit homer of the season and 15th overall.

“I just got in good hitting position and reacted to it. (It was) a fastball, up and away. It probably would have been ball three. I should have taken it but then again Dunn hit his ball tonight and it was up and away,” Hamilton said.

Bill Bray (1-0) pitched two scoreless inning for the victory. David Weathers pitched a scoreless ninth for his 24th save in 29 opportunities.

Ramirez broke a 6-all tie in the fourth with his 18th homer off reliever Victor Santos.

After a double by Ryan Theriot in the fifth, Kendall homered off Santos to make 9-6. It was Kendall’s first homer with the Cubs since being traded from Oakland on July 16. He has three on the season.

Cubs reliever Michael Wuertz came in with a three-run lead in the sixth. He was greeted by Dunn with a solo shot to right on the first pitch. Conine followed with an infield single and scored from first on a double by Edwin Encarnacion. Scott Hatteberg’s sacrifice fly tied the game at 6.

In his first major league at-bat of the season, Jorgensen put the Reds ahead in the second with a two-run shot off Cubs starter Ted Lilly. He was called up on Tuesday from Triple-A Louisville to replace catcher David Ross, who is on the disabled list with a concussion.

Jorgensen won’t be forgetting his memorable night.

“It’s definitely a fairy tale. Something you see in a movie,” he said. “I was hyped up.”

Trailing 2-0 in the second inning, the Cubs got consecutive doubles from Jake Fox, Murton and Jacque Jones to tie the score. Two outs later, Kendall drove in Jones with another double to put the Cubs up 3-2.

The Reds came back to take the lead in the third inning on an RBI single by Ken Griffey Jr. and Conine’s three-run homer to left. It was Conine’s sixth of the season and put the Reds ahead 6-3.

Lilly came into the game having won eight of his last nine starts. He pitched five innings and gave up six runs and six hits. He struck out five and walked two.

“It’s pretty tough, given the fact that our offense goes out there and is banging the ball all over the field and I didn’t take advantage of it,” Lilly said. “I felt like that was a game I needed to take control of.”

In his third major league start, Phil Dumatrait gave up four runs, five hits and four walks.

Notes

The Reds put SS Alex Gonzalez on the bereavement list and replaced him with INF Mark Bellhorn. Bellhorn went to Triple-A Louisville after being designated for assignment by the Reds after Sunday’s game. … Fox got his first major league hit with his double in the second inning. … Hopper has an 11-game hitting streak.

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