Arroyo wins fourth straight for Reds

CHICAGO (AP) -- Bronson Arroyo wasn't thinking about any of it.
It didn't matter that the Cincinnati Reds' playoff hopes are just
about gone, that the flow of runs had been reduced to a trickle.

His curve was at its best, David Ross hit a three-run homer and
the slumping Reds beat the Chicago Cubs 4-0 Friday despite managing
just four hits.

"I just know that some teams have to lose some ballgames and
all we can worry about is trying to win every game," Arroyo said.

Rich Aurilia's RBI single and Ross' shot off Carlos Marmol (5-7)
during a four-run fourth were enough to give the Reds their sixth
victory in 19 games.

Arroyo (14-9) won his fourth straight start, allowing four hits
while striking out seven and walking three. It was the second
scoreless outing in three starts for Arroyo, who threw the first
shutout of his career against San Francisco on Sept 5.

Scott Schoeneweis pitched the ninth to finish the combined

It was small consolation for a Cincinnati team that saw its
playoff hopes all but evaporate this week by losing two of three to
wild-card leader San Diego. The Reds closed within 3˝ games of the

It's been a long fall from where Cincinnati was after beating
San Francisco on Aug. 24: less than a percentage point behind St.
Louis for the NL Central lead and 1˝ games ahead in the wild card.

"It's definitely an uphill battle," Aurilia said. "It's not
like we're 4˝ back behind one team; we're 4˝ behind four (for the
wild card). It's hard enough to catch one.

The Cubs' misery continued.

Wrecked by injuries, they were scrambling again when starter
Juan Mateo left with tightness in the middle of his back after
three hitless innings. He struck out three, walked two before being
lifted for a pinch-hitter leading off the third.

It was the second time in four starts Mateo left with an injury.
He took a line drive to the forearm by Pittsburgh's Jose Bautista
on Aug. 30.

Mateo said through an interpreter that his back was bothering
him in the bullpen before the game and it got worse. He said it's
not serious, but was not sure if he'll make his next start.

"When I was throwing the ball, it was like pulling my back in.
It kept hurting," he said.

Marmol came on to pitch in the fourth and got hit hard for the
second straight day.

After allowing three runs in one-third of an inning in
Thursday's 6-5 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, Marmol allowed
four in his lone inning.

"You hate that early exit because you try to use everybody, but
not overuse anybody for ensuing days," said manager Dusty Baker,
who used four relievers.

Marmol walked the first two batters on nine pitches before
Aurilia singled to left to drive in Norris Hopper with the game's
first run. With one out, Ross sent a drive into the left-field
seats for his 19th homer and a 4-0 lead.

"Our bullpen did a good job, except for a couple untimely
walks, a base hit and a three-run homer," Baker said.

The offense did little, though.

The Cubs just kept lunging and looking at breaking balls, unable
to mount a threat against Arroyo.

"He pitches backward," said Aramis Ramirez, who doubled.
"When he's behind, he throws the breaking ball."

Acquired in a trade with Boston in late March, Arroyo went 9-3
in his first 15 starts before going 1-6 in his next 13. But in his
last four outings, he has allowed four runs in 32 innings and
lowered his ERA from 3.52 to 3.17.

"This game's funny," Arroyo said. "You saw the streak I went
through in the middle of the year. Good, bad or ugly, I wasn't
getting any wins. ... I started off really hot. I'm hot right now.
I'm not doing anything special."

Game notes
Cubs 1B Derrek Lee missed the game to tend to a family
emergency, leaving his status for Saturday's game in doubt. ...
Although he's nursing a tight back, RHP Carlos Zambrano wants to
start Sunday and Cubs manager Dusty Baker did not rule out. "I'm
pitching on Sunday," Zambrano told reporters after the game,
before walking away. "I'll see you Sunday, but I'll see you
(Saturday) first." ... LHP Chris Michalak will start Saturday for
the Reds against Rich Hill. He is 1-2 with a 5.09 ERA in five
appearances and three starts. ... Cincinnati held Ken Griffey Jr.
out of the lineup for the ninth straight game with a dislocated
second toe on his right foot.