CHICAGO (AP) — Drew Stubbs’ swing was a mess. So was his mind.
Nothing that a little trip to Wrigley Field couldn’t fix.
Stubbs hurt the Chicago Cubs once again, hitting a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning and driving in a pair of runs to lead the surging Cincinnati Reds to a 4-3 victory Saturday.
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Stubbs doubled and scored in the third, started the eighth with his 14th homer and singled in a run in the ninth. The speedy center fielder snapped out of a 1-for-37 funk after being benched for five games. He is batting .318 with five homers against the Cubs this season.
“I just used the past few days to clean the slate,” Stubbs said. “I had a lot of things going on in my head, and I stepped back to where I was earlier. I made some good swings today.”
Reds closer Francisco Cordero entered with a 4-1 lead but walked the bases loaded and before forcing in a run by hitting Starlin Castro with an 0-2 pitch. Nick Masset came on and struck out Derrek Lee, walked Aramis Ramirez for Chicago’s final run and struck out Marlon Byrd for his second save.
Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker, who was fired by the Cubs after the 2006 season, pumped his fist in celebration after Byrd went down.
“These games are taking some hours out of my life,” said Baker, who watched Cordero walk two in the ninth inning Friday before wrapping up a 3-0 victory. “Every time you think you have this game figured out, something happens to let you know you don’t.”
The NL Central-leading Reds have won six of seven to move 15 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 1999 season.
The Cubs, who have the NL’s highest payroll and were expected to contend, have dropped nine of 10 to fall to 47-63. They are 3-9 against the Reds this year.
“In no way, shape or form would we have thought we’d be sitting in this position,” Lee said. “It’s just such a bad taste in your mouth when you play like this.
“Bases loaded, one out (in the ninth) … I’m expecting to hit something in the gap. When instead you strike out, that’s the disappointing part, when you know what you’re capable of doing and it’s just not happening.”
Randy Wells (5-10) opened with seven innings of three-hit ball and Cubs manager Lou Piniella let him bat in the bottom of the seventh in a 1-1 game. Chicago failed to score and Stubbs hit Wells’ second pitch of the eighth into the left-field bleachers.
“Stubbs hit a pretty good pitch, a good slider down and way,” said Wells, who was 3-0 with a 2.30 career ERA against the Reds. “He’s a tough out.”
Stubbs also hit a go-ahead grand slam in eighth inning of Cincinnati’s 5-4 victory over Chicago on April 9, and had a three-homer game at Wrigley Field on July 4. His drive off Wells was his first since he went deep twice against Colorado on July 17.
“It’s a great place to play, a great atmosphere,” Stubbs said of Chicago’s cozy neighborhood ballpark.
Ramon Hernandez followed Stubbs’ shot with a single and Chris Heisey walked, chasing Wells. After Justin Berg got Brandon Phillips to ground into a double play, Paul Janish singled to make it 3-1.
Cincinnati took advantage of second baseman Blake DeWitt’s error in the ninth to extend its lead. DeWitt dropped Laynce Nix’s popup, allowing him to reach second, and Stubbs hit an RBI single to left with two out.
Edinson Volquez allowed one run and six hits in 6 2-3 innings for the Reds. Making his fifth start since undergoing major elbow surgery last August, the right-hander threw 105 pitches, his first triple-digit effort since May 10, 2009.
Volquez issued two of his four walks in the seventh, when Logan Ondrusek (3-0) came on to get the final out. Ondrusek also worked a hitless eighth.
Lee hit a sacrifice fly in the third for the Cubs, driving in Kosuke Fukudome and tying it at 1. Fukudome doubled with one out and moved to third on Castro’s single.
Fukudome, who batted .152 in his previous 32 games and lost his right-field job to rookie Tyler Colvin, started consecutive games for the first time in exactly a month. Now Colvin is slumping and Piniella said the rookie will get a few days off.
NOTES: Volquez has a career 0.96 ERA against the Cubs … It’s not quite Aroldis Chapman’s time, but that time is fast approaching. The Reds called up RHP Carlos Fisher from Triple-A Louisville to replace RHP Russ Springer, who went on the disabled list with a strained left hip. But speaking about the organization’s much-hyped pitching prospect from Cuba, Baker said: “We’ll see Chapman soon enough.” Baker wouldn’t say if that would be before or after Sept. 1, when rosters can be expanded. … Cubs C Geovany Soto was sidelined by a mild right shoulder sprain. Piniella said Soto won’t play Sunday but he hoped to have him back Monday in San Francisco.