Cubs

LIVE: Cubs, Reds battling in extra innings

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LIVE: Cubs, Reds battling in extra innings

Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011
Posted: 9:13 a.m.

(AP) -- Randy Wells has been a consistent bright spot for the Chicago Cubs for more than a month.

The right-hander looks to win a sixth straight decision and help the Cubs salvage a split of their four-game road set with the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night.

Wells (7-4, 4.73 ERA) was 2-4 with a 6.16 ERA in his first 12 starts, which were interrupted by a stint on the disabled list because of a right forearm strain. Since the beginning of August, however, he's 5-0 with a 3.02 ERA in eight starts, and he's allowed four runs in 28 2-3 innings while going 3-0 in his last four outings - all Cubs wins.

Wells allowed two runs in seven innings Saturday but did not factor in the decision in a 5-4 victory at New York.

"All I care about is if the team wins, that makes it a lot better," Wells told the Cubs' official website.

The only Chicago defeat during Wells' last eight starts came in his lone 2011 appearance versus Cincinnati (73-76). He yielded six runs and three homers in seven innings of an 8-7 loss Aug. 7.

He will try to help the Cubs (65-84) avoid a third consecutive defeat. They totaled three runs and 13 hits while losing the last two games after pounding out 16 hits during a 12-8 victory in Monday's series opener.

One night after his 13-game hitting streak was snapped, All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro went 2 for 3 in Wednesday's 7-2 loss to extend his streak of reaching base to 27 games. The NL leader with 192 hits, Castro has batted .432 (16 for 37) with eight RBIs in his last nine contests versus Cincinnati.

"Finishing strong is big," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "If we're going to do that, then individual players are going to have to finish strong."

Castro's only hit in four at-bats against scheduled Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey (8-7, 4.34) left the park. Bailey allowed four runs and walked three in six innings May 16 but still earned the win in the Reds' 7-4 home victory in his only 2011 start versus Chicago.

The right-hander was 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA in his previous four starts overall before working 7 2-3 innings of a 4-1 win at Colorado on Friday for his first victory since Aug. 13.

"When you're going out there and you're on the same page with your catcher and the game can flow really quick, good things are going to happen," Bailey said.

Ramon Hernandez hit a three-run homer and infielder Juan Francisco drove in two runs Wednesday as the Reds overcame a back injury to starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, who left the game in the fourth inning.

Trying to solidify a future in Cincinnati, Francisco is 4 for 12 with a homer and four RBIs in the series. He also turned in a defensive gem from third base Wednesday, throwing out Marlon Byrd from foul territory in the ninth inning.

"You practice that every day," Francisco said. "I watch Scott Rolen."

Cincinnati has won six of eight versus Chicago this season at Great American Ball Park.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Is this catch by Reed Johnson the best of the last decade?

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NBC Sports Chicago

Is this catch by Reed Johnson the best of the last decade?

Ten years ago today, Reed Johnson had one of the best catches in a Cubs uniform.

On April 26, 2008, the Cubs outfielder made a spectacular diving catch off of Nationals' Felipe Lopez's liner to center field. Johnson had to run to his right in what felt like a mile to track down. He then dove for it on the warning track going head first into the wall. Remember this?

How he caught it? Not sure. And how he didn't get hurt? Don't know that either.

But a lot of members on the Cubs at the time raved about the catch (Len Kasper's call was also phenomenal), and joked that they're happy it didn't happen on W. Addison St.

"At Wrigley Field they might have had to call a timeout to find his head in the vines," manager Lou Piniella said after that game.

There have been some outstanding catches since that catch in 2008. Jason Heyward's diving grab in San Francisco, Javier Baez's catch against the Miami Marlins where he dove into the crowd, Anthony Rizzo's tarp catches. There are a handful of them. 

But where does this one rank?

How often do the Cubs think about Game 7?

How often do the Cubs think about Game 7?

CLEVELAND — Diehard Cubs fans probably think about that epic Game 7 every day, right?

It was — arguably — the greatest baseball game ever played given the stakes (a winner-take-all to end one of the two biggest championship droughts in the sport) and all the wild moments.

The highlights still have the power to give Cubs fans chills 18 months later:

But how often do the guys who took part in that game think about those moments?

This week, as the Cubs split a series with the Cleveland Indians and walked the same steps and sat in the same seats and put their stuff in the same lockers as they did almost exactly a year-and-a-half ago, the nostalgia was undeniable.

The first thing Addison Russell noticed was how he was at the same locker (many Cubs were) as the World Series and the visiting locker room carpet was redone.

He also admitted it felt surreal, almost like a dream.

Kyle Schwarber made that Hollywood-style comeback to be able to DH for the four World Series games at Progressive Field, but he doesn't think about his journey back from a devastating knee injury.

No, he preferred to focus on the Cubs' comeback from down 3-1 in the series.

"I like to think about the World Series," Schwarber said. "I really don't think about all that other stuff. I just think about the games that we played. Pretty much all the resiliency and everything right there that we had and how we faced adversity.

"I don't think anyone here doesn't think about it, because I always think about it all the time. It's that moment that we all live for and it's an addicting feeling and we want to get there again, so we just gotta take it a step at a time."

On the other side of the coin, Cubs manager Joe Maddon insists he doesn't spend time looking in the past.

"Not unless I'm asked about it," Maddon said. "I think I'm really good about turning pages and not even realizing it. I often talk about present tense and I think I'm pretty good about it. Unless it's brought up, I don't go there."

Admittedly, a lot has changed for these Cubs since then.

With World Series MVP Ben Zobrist currently on the disabled list, only 13 of the 25 active Cubs were also active in Game 7.

And given this 11-10 team has "World Series or bust" expectations on the 2018 campaign, there's work to be done and not much time to focus on the past.

Take David Bote — a 2012 Cubs draft pick who was just called up to make his MLB debut last weekend — who watched the road to end a 108-year title drought from afar, but is now in the midst of a bid at a new iteration of Even Year Magic.

"The organization does a great job of being all together and we're in one spot [in spring training], so you get to see and experience it with them," Bote said. "Here, what we're talking about is today and how we can win today. We don't really talk about what happened in the past in '16."