LaRue batted second for the first time this season and came
through with a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning, then singled
home another run in a four-run ninth as the Cincinnati Reds beat
Chicago 8-3 Tuesday. It was the seventh straight loss for the Cubs."They're kind of rolling through a little funk right now and
we're playing well," said winning pitcher Aaron Harang. "The team
is putting some runs on the board and playing good defense behind
the starters."Corey Patterson returned after a monthlong stint at Triple-A,
Nomar Garciaparra hit his first home run and Mark Prior struck out
a season-high 11. But it didn't amount to a victory."We need to win ballgames, that's pretty obvious," Prior said.
"We haven't done that in a week. We need to win A ballgame."LaRue's drive over the left-field bleachers came off Will Ohman
(2-2), who had just entered the game. It was the catcher's 10th of
the season. Ironically, he was moved up to second because of his
success against Prior.Cubs manager Dusty Baker brought in the left-handed Ohman for
Prior --, who had thrown 117 pitches in seven innings -- because the
Reds had three left-handed hitters due up after LaRue, batting only
.231 against lefties."He hit a pretty good pitch," Baker said. "We couldn't close
them out at the end."LaRue added the RBI single in the ninth off Ryan Dempster after
a two-run double by Jacob Cruz. Adam Dunn singled home the fourth
run of the inning.Prior gave up solo homers to Ken Griffey Jr. and Edwin
Encarnacion. He allowed eight hits and three runs and didn't walk a
batter."We're not playing good, that's the bottom line," Prior said.
"I'm not going to sit here and analyze what people are doing or
not doing. We're not playing good and we're not winning
ballgames."Harang (8-10) allowed eight hits, striking out three and walking
none in seven innings."I couldn't say enough good things about him," LaRue said.
"He mixed his pitches up well and the main thing, he kept the ball
down in the zone."The Cubs, 6½ games behind Houston in the NL wild-card race, are
hitting .233 and have scored just 20 runs during their most recent
slide. Chicago's pitching staff has a 5.83 ERA in that time."We don't need to convince [media and fans] we're still in
it," Baker said. "We have to convince ourselves before we can
convince anybody. We've got a big game tomorrow and the St. Louis
Cardinals coming, so we certainly need to win this game tomorrow."Matt Lawton's two-run double with two outs in the second gave
the Cubs a 2-1 lead. With one out, Corey Patterson reached on a
bunt single and Henry Blanco followed with a single. Prior's
sacrifice set up Lawton's hit.Sean Casey doubled in the second and later scored on an error
for Cincinnati.Griffey led off the sixth with his 25th home run to tie the game
at 2-all. Garciaparra's homer gave the Cubs the lead again."In my first two at-bats, I thought I hit the ball hard," said
Garciaparra, who also grounded out twice and struck out once.
"Every day, every time you step up to the plate, you want to hit
the ball hard and try and build on it."But Encarnacion's leadoff homer, his second of the season, tied
it in the seventh before the Reds' outburst in the last two
LaRue came into the game hitting .375 (6-for-16) with three
RBI against Prior. He went 1-for-3 against Prior with a double.
... Garciaparra's wife, soccer star Mia Hamm, was in an attendance.
... Former NASCAR champion Kurt Busch threw out the first pitch and
sang "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" on the same day it was
announced he is leaving his Roush Racing team to move to Roger
Penske's team. ... Patterson went 1-for-4 in his return. ... The
Cubs said Carlos Zambrano, who left the game early Sunday with a
stiff back, will make his next start Friday.