Wood blows lead in Cubs’ 4-3 loss to Reds

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CINCINNATI (AP)—Lou Piniella got lost on his way to Cincinnati, and the Chicago Cubs manager wasn’t in the mood to talk as he headed out of town Sunday.

Jolbert Cabrera hit a game-ending RBI single off Cubs closer Kerry Wood to complete Cincinnati’s three-run ninth inning and give the Reds a 4-3 win.

NL Central-leading Chicago has lost seven of eight and is off Monday before beginning a three-game series at St. Louis on Tuesday night.

Piniella’s weekend went awry at the start when the former Reds manager and first base coach Matt Sinatro got lost driving from Chicago to Cincinnati on Friday. It ended with Piniella canceling his postgame press conference after his team lost two of three against the lowly Reds.

“No postgame interview,” director of media relations Peter Chase said. “He declined.”

Edwin Encarnacion started the rally with a leadoff single into center field and hustled to second when the ball got past a charging Jim Edmonds. After Jay Bruce walked, Encarnacion was cut down at third when Ryan Hanigan bunted into a forceout but Wood (4-4) walked pinch-hitter Javier Valentin to load the bases.

Pinch-hitter Chris Dickerson followed with a chopper up the middle that glanced off the glove of shortstop Ronny Cedeno and into short center field for what originally was ruled a two-base error that allowed the tying runs to score. The official scorer later changed the error to a two-run double.

“That was a tough play—not for me, but for the team,” said Cedeno, who entered the game in the bottom of the sixth when Ryan Theriot started feeling sick. “I wasn’t trying to do too much. I wanted to get at least one. If we get one, we’re still ahead and we can get out of it.”

Cabrera then ripped a single into left field, giving Wood his sixth blown save.

“I was a little rusty,” said Wood, who hadn’t pitched in four days. “I couldn’t throw the ball where I wanted to. Other than the last one, they didn’t hit the ball hard.”

Cincinnati’s win sent the large contingent of Cubs fans, who made up the vast majority of the crowds at Great American Ball Park for the series, home with a bitter taste in their mouths.

“It feels like you’re playing in Chicago, so it feels pretty good,” Cabrera said. “I think it sends a message to the contending clubs that, if you’re going to play us, you’ll have to earn your wins.”

Reds manager Dusty Baker, who managed the Cubs from 2003 through 2006, diplomatically wouldn’t comment on whether he took extra pleasure in coming from behind to beat his former team and win the series.

“What do you think?” he replied, allowing himself a small smile.

Francisco Cordero (5-4) pitched a scoreless ninth to get the win.

Chicago scored two runs in the seventh to take a 3-1 lead, taking advantage when Aaron Harang hit Geovany Soto and Mark DeRosa to start the inning. Cedeno had a one-out RBI single and pinch-hitter Mike Fontenot drove in DeRosa with a sacrifice fly.

Sean Marshall, subbing for ailing Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano, allowed one run and three hits in six innings. Zambrano left Tuesday’s start against Houston after five innings because of a tired arm.

After combining to score 35 runs while splitting the first two games of the weekend series, the teams struggled to put together any offense against Harang, who went into the game tied with the Cubs’ Ted Lilly for second in the major leagues with 31 home runs allowed, and Marshall, whose start was just his sixth of the season in 29 appearances.

The Reds capitalized on Marshall’s control problems to take a 1-0 lead in the second inning. After Encarnacion singled with one out, Marshall hit Bruce with a pitch and walked Hanigan to load the bases for Corey Patterson, who lined out to right fielder Micah Hoffpauir for a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth on consecutive singles by Hoffpauir, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, and Hoffpauir scored on Soto’s double-play ball.

Harang lasted seven innings, giving up six hits and three runs.

Notes

Dickerson was scratched from Cincinnati’s lineup with a sore left ankle. … Patterson’s bunt single to lead off the fifth inning was his 10th bunt hit of the season. … Alfonso Soriano, who hit three home runs in Chicago’s 14-9 win Saturday, hit the first pitch of the game to the warning track in right for an out.

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