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.

Cubs Talk Podcast: David Bote’s wild ride and a huge test for Cubs pitchers

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: David Bote’s wild ride and a huge test for Cubs pitchers

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki break down the Cubs’ series win over the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field, which capped off with yet another David Bote walk-off and a surprising performance from Tyler Chatwood. They also break down where this Cubs team is at as they get set to welcome the high-powered Dodgers offense into Chicago later in the week.

:30 – The Kelly Effect

1:00 – David Bote’s wild ride

2:00 – El Mago’s magic pays off for Cubs yet again

3:30 – Bote’s adjustments

6:40 – Chatwood’s big day

8:50 – What’s next for Chatwood?

10:10 – Lester’s return is right around the corner

11:30 – Cubs pitching firing on all cylinders

12:00 – Did Kap jinx Strop?

13:30 – Dodgers pose a big challenge for Cubs pitching staff

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Add another chapter to David Bote's incredible story

Add another chapter to David Bote's incredible story

David Bote had to be feeling like the luckiest guy on Earth.

The Cubs were humming along in their quickest game of the season and two outs away from a 1-0 victory on a picture-perfect Easter Sunday at Wrigley Field. That was good news for him, because he had a flight to catch — doctors were inducing his wife, Rachel, and she was going to be giving birth to their third child that night.

Then Bote watched as Arizona's light-hitting outfielder Jarrod Dyson — he of 16 homers in 744 career games coming into the afternoon — sent a Pedro Strop pitch into the right-field bleachers in the top of the ninth inning to extend the game.

So Bote took things into his own hands.

Javy Baez led off the Cubs' half of the ninth with a double down the right field line, advanced to third on an error and then Willson Contreras was plunked by Diamondbacks reliever Archie Bradley.

Up stepped Bote, who watched a curve for Ball 1 and then narrowly got out of the way of a 95 mph fastball ticketed for his left temple. Bradley came back with a curve for a strike and Bote knew what to look for, waiting on another curveball and hammering it through the drawn-in infield for the Cubs' 10th win of the season. 

Minutes later, Bote had bolted out of Wrigley Field, heading back home to Colorado for the birth of Baby No. 3.

Speaking of which, Bote's walk-off hit Sunday came exactly 36 weeks (a little over eight months) after his ultimate grand slam to beat the Washington Nationals...

"It's a grand slam baby and now it's another walk-off for him," teammate Anthony Rizzo joked.

This is just the latest chapter in the incredible story of Bote, an 18th-round draft pick who endured seven seasons in the minor leagues before being called up to the majors. He doesn't even have a full year of service time in "The Show" yet, but he's already proven he belongs and carved out a permanent spot on the roster before signing a 5-year, $15 million extension earlier this month.

"From the homer last year, there was a lot of pressure and he slowed everything down," Baez said. "He just keeps getting better and he knows he's got talent and he can do it. He's got a lot of confidence coming off the bench and he's been huge for this team."

This was Bote's 42nd career RBI and it was already his 4th walk-off RBI. That means nearly 10 percent of his career RBI have come via walk-off situation.

"It's nice. He's had experience early [in those situations]," Rizzo said. "You can't teach that. He's had a lot of situations like that and he's come through. It's fun to watch."

This was only the 10th start of the season for Bote in the Cubs' 20th game, but he's found a way to stay sharp. 

After his 2-hit game Sunday, he's now slashing .295/.380/.455 on the season and showing off the adjustments he's made after hitting just .176 with a .559 OPS after that ultimate grand slam last year.

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