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Fukudome’s Homerun sends Cubs over Reds 3-2

Associated Press

Bronson Arroyo pitched well, but not quite well enough Saturday night as the Cubs edged the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

CINCINNATI — One bad fastball turned into Bronson Arroyo’s undoing.

Kosuke Fukudome hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer off Arroyo, and the Chicago Cubs finally ended years of futility against the right-hander by beating the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 on Saturday night.

Fukudome’s homer in the fifth inning sent Arroyo (14-8) to his first loss against the Cubs since 2007. Arroyo had won his last five decisions against Chicago, including his two starts this season. He felt good in this one, too.

“I had command of my fastball, which doesn’t always happen,” Arroyo said. “I kept the ball down, for the most part.”

A fastball that strayed right down the middle to Fukudome allowed the Cubs to get that breakthrough win.

Randy Wells (6-12) got a victory on his 28th birthday — his first win since July 23. Wells limited the NL’s top offense to five hits and a pair of runs in six innings, including Joey Votto’s solo homer. Chicago’s bullpen allowed only one hit, with Carlos Marmol pitching the ninth for his 24th save in 29 tries.

It was only Chicago’s fourth win in 15 games against Cincinnati this season.

Despite the loss, the Reds remained four games ahead of St. Louis in the NL Central. The Cardinals lost to Washington 14-5, their fourth loss in five games. Since getting swept by St. Louis, the Reds have gone 10-4 to take control of the division.

The Reds didn’t lose ground despite playing short-handed. Second baseman Brandon Phillips missed a second straight game with a bruised right hand. Outfielder Laynce Nix has a sprained ankle, and infielder Miguel Cairo has a sore leg.

“That’s good, especially with our bench beat up,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We didn’t have Nix. Brandon wasn’t available. And we couldn’t use Cairo.”

Nobody on Cincinnati’s staff handles the Cubs as well as Arroyo, who has dominated the middle of their lineup. Arroyo made two other starts against the Cubs this season and didn’t allow a run in 13 innings, going 2-0.

Nobody in the Cubs’ lineup had worse career numbers against Arroyo than Fukudome, who was 1-for-16 coming in. On Saturday, he hit everything hard.

Fukudome sent Jay Bruce to the right-field wall to catch his fly ball in his first at-bat. The next time up, there was no doubt about the distance. His two-run shot landed deep in the Cubs’ bullpen in right field and put Chicago up 3-1. Fukudome also singled in the seventh, giving him more hits in one game against Arroyo than he had previously in his career.

Since the All-Star break, Fukudome is batting .338.

“Fuke has been swinging the bat really good,” manager Mike Quade said. “We’ve got four outfielders playing really well, so somebody is not going to play each night. Tonight was his night.”

Xavier Nady also hit a solo homer off Arroyo, who gave up five hits in seven innings. It was Nady’s first homer since June 10.

Votto hit his 32nd homer off Wells in the fourth inning — he trails Cardinals star Albert Pujols for the NL lead. Ryan Hanigan also singled home a run in the sixth off Wells, who had gone 0-5 with a 6.23 ERA in his last six starts.

“It’s been a rough year, but who knows?” Wells said. “You’ve got six or seven starts left, you rattle off some victories and put yourself in a respectable position. That’s what I’m aiming for.”

There were thousands of blue-shirted Cubs fans in the crowd of 41,292, the eighth capacity crowd at Great American Ball Park this season.

Game notes

The Cubs are 4-1 under Quade, who took over when Lou Piniella retired on Sunday. … The Cubs have played 47 one-run games, most in the NL. They’re 17-30 in those games. … The Reds moved RHP Edinson Volquez into the bullpen, giving him a chance to fix flaws in his delivery. Rookie Travis Wood will start in his place Sunday in the final game of the series. … SS Orlando Cabrera has been told to rest for a few days, giving strained abdominal muscles more healing time. He’s been on the DL since Aug. 2. Cabrera has been hitting and running, but the injury still bothers him when he throws.

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Fukudome’s HR sends Cubs over Reds 3-210.0101

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