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Cin
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Reds 7, Cubs 2

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CINCINNATI (AP)

Johnny Cueto missed the beginning of the season with an injury. Now he's hurt again.

The major league ERA leader left the Cincinnati Reds' 7-2 win over the Chicago Cubs after 3 2-3 innings Wednesday night because of a strained muscle in the upper right side of his back.

''I wanted to stay in but it was sore and painful,'' Cueto said. ''I hope I don't have to miss an outing after I'm examined tomorrow.''

Ramon Hernandez hit a three-run homer in the second inning to back Cueto, who lowered his ERA to 2.31. Cueto was visited by a trainer and pitching coach Bryan Price with one out in the fourth inning. After getting Alfonso Soriano to pop out, trainer Steve Bauman and Dusty Baker went to the mound.

''I felt it pop on the pitch to Soriano,'' Cueto said.

Baker then removed Cueto.

''''He said he felt OK, but then threw a 94 mph pitch to Soriano, but I saw him grimace,'' the manager said. ''He didn't want to come out, but we want to do what's best for him in the long run.''

Cueto, who allowed three hits, didn't make his first start of the season until May 8 because of irritation in his right upper arm.

He is six innings short of qualifying for the ERA title and is just behind of the Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, who has a 2.30 ERA. Baker said the injury was a strained latissimus dorsi muscle.

''If it was in the joint I would be something different,'' Baker said. ''Hopefully he can get two more starts.''

Inheriting a 5-0 lead, Sam LeCure (1-1) pitched 2 1-3 innings for the win. He allowed a pair of sixth-inning runs when Carlos Pena hit an RBI double and scored on Alfonso Soriano's groundout.

Casey Coleman (2-8) gave up six runs, six hits and three walks in 3 2-3 innings. Since winning at Florida on May 19, he is 0-5 with a 7.98 ERA in eight big league starts and two relief appearances, a span that included three trips to the minor leagues.

''I didn't have command,'' Coleman said. ''I felt like I didn't know how to pitch. I had a base open with (Juan) Francisco up. I've faced him in the minor leagues and he hit me pretty good. I've got to be able to pitch around him there.''

Francisco hit a two-run single for a 5-0 lead in the third. The third baseman also turned in a defensive gem, throwing out Marlon Byrd out from foul territory in the ninth inning.

''You practice that every day,'' Francisco said. ''I watch Scott Rolen who has seven or eight Gold Gloves.''

Hernandez's 12th homer of the season but first since Aug. 5 put Cincinnati ahead. Chris Heisey added a solo homer in the eighth off Ramon Ortiz, his 16th.

NOTES: Cubs SS Starlin Castro, who had his career-high 13-game hitting streak stopped on Tuesday, went 2-for-3 to extend to 27 his streak of consecutive games in which he's reached base at least once. ... RHP Randy Wells, scheduled to start for Chicago in Thursday's series finale, has won a career-high five straight decisions. He is 5-0 with a 3.02 ERA over his last eight starts. ... RHP Homer Bailey, Cincinnati's scheduled starter, has an 8-7 record, but the Reds are 9-10 in his starts.

Tagged: Juan Francisco, Cubs, Alfonso Soriano, Ramon Hernandez, Homer Bailey, Reds, Johnny Cueto

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