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Wood zeroes in as Cubs win fourth straight

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Aug 26 2014 10:47:20 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 26 2014 10:47:22 PM CDT

CINCINNATI -- Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria said it was important for Travis Wood to have a strong outing Tuesday.

"It hasn't been like the season he expected of himself," Renteria said before the game. "Every time we give him the ball we expect good things to happen. Hopefully today's the day he has a nice outing for us."

Wood delivered with six shutout innings, and first baseman Anthony Rizzo and center fielder Arismendy Alcantara homered, lifting Chicago to a 3-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the opener of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park.

Wood (8-11) allowed only two hits and a walk, striking out five, over 96 pitches to earn his first victory since June 15.

Hector Rondon earned his 22nd save.

"We're very, very happy for Woody," Renteria said afterward. "He was attacking the strike zone. He worked the fringes more, using his curveball. He had a good feel for his pitches tonight."

Chicago (59-72) has won four straight and six of the past eight.

The Cubs had to overcome a pair of injury concerns when Rizzo left the game with lower back tightness and right fielder Ryan Sweeney departed with a strained hamstring. Neither injury appeared serious.

There weren't many hard-hit balls off Wood, who retired Cincinnati in order in the second, third and sixth innings. He held the Reds without a hit in four of his six innings.

"He was commanding both sides of the plate with his cutter," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He didn't give us anything good to hit."

Wood had to overcome a 50-minute rain delay, during which he threw in the cage every 15 minutes to stay loose.

"I was able to keep the ball down and get some quick outs," Wood said. "Command was good. I pitched effectively in the zone. I was happy to get through six."

Reds starter Johnny Cueto (15-8) gave up three earned runs on seven hits. Cueto walked two and fanned eight. He allowed two homers in a game for the fourth time this season.

Cincinnati (63-69) has lost eight of 10 and is 12-25 since the All-Star break.

Right-hander Daniel Corcino, who turned 24 on Tuesday, made his major league debut in the ninth inning and struck two of three batters faced.

With two outs in the first, Rizzo launched a 2-1 pitch from Cueto into the right-center field stands putting the Cubs ahead 1-0. It was his 30th home run this season.

Moments after Rizzo's homer, the skies opened up over Great American Ball Park, resulting in nearly an hour rain delay.

Cueto said the game should've been called earlier, perhaps before Rizzo's at-bat.

"I was upset," Cueto said, via interpreter catcher Brayan Pena. "They knew it was going to rain. They should've called timeout and not started the game. I was afraid I was going to hit (Rizzo) with a pitch. I couldn't grip the ball. I'm not making excuses. I couldn't get a grip."

Neither starting pitcher seemed fazed by the interruption.

Cueto retired 10 in a row and Wood set down 10 straight after a one-out single by first baseman Todd Frazier in the first. Each pitcher allowed two hits through five innings.

Chicago held a precarious 1-0 lead through six innings, before right fielder Matt Szczur singled and scored on Alcantara's home run, his fifth this season, which made the score 3-0.

"It was a fastball up," Alcantara said. "I was just trying to get on top of the ball and put it in play."

NOTES: Cubs manager Rick Renteria said he's eager to see how OF Jorge Soler adapts to the major leagues. Soler, the club's fifth-ranked prospect according to MLB.com, is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday. "It's pretty exciting for the whole organization," Renteria said. "He's a young man who's been talked about quite a bit. He's a gifted outfielder with some power." ... Cubs SS Starlin Castro rejoined the club from the bereavement list on Tuesday and INF Logan Watkins was optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Castro had returned to the Dominican Republic after an auto accident claimed the life of a relative and three friends. "He looks like he's in a good place," Renteria said. ... Reds RHP Homer Bailey's hopes of pitching again this season are fading. "He's not knocking on the door to start throwing," Reds manager Bryan Price said. Bailey's been on the disabled list since Aug. 16 with a strained right elbow. ... Cubs OF Justin Ruggiano missed his second straight game with a sore left ankle.

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