Clayton's pinch-hit single in ninth lifts Reds over Cubs

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Cincinnati almost wasted Aaron Harang's great
effort Sunday, then Royce Clayton stepped in and rescued the Reds.

Clayton's pinch-hit single on the 11th pitch of his at-bat in
the ninth inning drove in Chris Denorfia and lifted Cincinnati over
the Chicago Cubs 3-2 Sunday.

Clayton hit for Dewayne Wise with one out and the bases loaded
in the ninth. He grounded a Scott Eyre pitch through the Cubs'
drawn-in infield to cap Cincinnati's two-run rally in its last

"I was just up there trying to battle," Clayton said. "I knew
if I hooked one to third base, it could be a double play, so I was
trying to stay up the middle. [Eyre] knew it, too. That was the
strategical battle. I was trying to go the other way, he was trying
to make me pull the ball."

The Cubs led 2-1 in the ninth but Ryan Dempster (1-9) had his
ninth blown save of the season. Pinch-hitter Todd Hollandsworth led
off with a double and Dempster uncorked two wild pitches that
allowed pinch-runner Ray Olmedo to score.

"I put Scott in a bad situation," said Dempster, who hasn't
had a save since Aug. 14 in a 3-0 win at Houston.

Denorfia then singled to left and moved to third on Scott
Hatteberg's base hit. Dempster issued an intentional walk to Rich
Aurilia and was relieved by Eyre, who gave up Clayton's hit.

"That was a professional at-bat," said Reds manager Jerry
Narron, whose team improved to 41-39 at Great American Ball Park
and guaranteed a second consecutive winning home season. "I don't
know how many pitches it was, but any time you have a 10-pitch
at-bat, it's huge."

Aaron Harang (15-11) allowed six hits in his fifth complete game
of the season, tied for the most in the National League. He also
struck out nine and didn't walk a batter, extending to 79 his
streak of consecutive starts without walking more than three
batters -- the fourth-longest current streak in the major leagues.
He threw 87 of his 110 pitches for strikes.

He wiggled out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the ninth with
the help of third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who flagged down a
chopper up the line by rookie Buck Coats and hustled to tag third
base for the inning-ending forceout.

"I didn't have that many pitches going into the ninth," Harang
said. "They were battling me. For (Narron) to let me stay out
there and get the win was huge."

"I thought he was going to have a complete game with 90
pitches," Narron said. "I looked up there in the sixth and he had
something like 60 pitches and 10 balls. I was going to give him
every chance in the world to win that game."

Aramis Ramirez lined the first pitch he saw from Harang in the
fourth inning 389 feet into the left-center field seats for his
career-high 37th homer. He hit 36 in 2004, his first full season
with Chicago after being acquired from Pittsburgh in the middle of
the 2003 season.

Ramirez also tied Houston's Lance Berkman for the most home runs
at Great American Ball Park by an opposing player with 12.

The Reds tied it in the bottom half when Norris Hopper's
groundout to second scored Encarnacion, but Coats gave the Cubs the
lead in the eighth with his first career homer in his first major
league start.

Cubs starter Juan Mateo, who left his last start on Sept. 15
against Cincinnati after three hitless innings with lower back
stiffness, allowed a run and three hits in five innings Sunday. He
struck out four and walked four.

"Mateo did a good job in his first time out in a while," Cubs
manager Dusty Baker said. "We got him out of there because we
didn't want his back flaring up again."

Game notes
Reds 1B Hatteberg's fifth-inning error snapped at 100 his
streak of consecutive games without an error, the longest streak in
the major leagues for a first baseman this season. The error was
his first since May 5 at Arizona. ... CF Juan Pierre stole second
base in the first inning to become the first Cubs player in 100
years with more than 55 stolen bases in a season. Frank Chance had
57 stolen bases in 1906. ... Reds LF Adam Dunn was ejected by plate
umpire Jeff Nelson after arguing about a called third strike in the
first inning. The ejection was the second of Dunn's career and
first since June 13, 2003, when he was ejected for charging
Phillies pitcher Carlos Silva.