Five-run seventh inning propels Reds to lopsided win over Cubs

CINCINNATI -- For the first time, the Cincinnati Reds won one going away.

Joey Votto hit a two-run homer in his first at-bat Saturday, and Jonny Gomes broke the game open with a bases-loaded single in the seventh off Carlos Zambrano, setting up a 14-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs that brought the Reds some rare, relaxing moments.

For once, everything went right.

"We had some hard-hit balls, and we had some bloopers fall in," Ryan Hanigan said. "It gets to be contagious."

Votto extended his hitting streak to seven games when he connected off left-hander Tom Gorzelanny (1-4), who hadn't allowed a homer by a left-handed batter. Gomes' single sparked a five-run rally in the seventh, and Hanigan added his first career grand slam an inning later as the Reds beat up on Chicago's relievers.

"It's not fun, the way things are going right now," Gorzelanny said. "This is too good of a team to be in the situation we're in right now. There's so much more there."

Aaron Harang (2-4) struck out a season-high nine in 6 2/3 innings of Cincinnati's most lopsided win this season. The Reds have been one of the majors' most dramatic teams, getting nine of their 15 wins in their final at-bat. They hadn't beaten a team by more than four runs all season.

"This was a tight game for a while, but once we got into their bullpen, we were able to put the pressure on them, kind of like what they did to us last night," Harang said. "The quote is: What goes around, comes around."

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro doubled and scored in four at-bats, a day after he drove in a record six runs during his debut during a 14-7 Cubs win. He also committed his first error, one that came at a bad time.

The 20-year-old shortstop doubled off Harang in the top of the seventh and eventually scored when Arthur Rhodes walked Xavier Nady with the bases loaded, cutting it to 3-2.

Then, it all came apart.

Castro then started the Reds' seventh by botching Orlando Cabrera's grounder. Second baseman Mike Fontenot followed with another error, and Sean Marshall walked the bases loaded. Zambrano, who agreed to move to the bullpen last month to give it some stability, came on and gave up Gomes' two-run single.

Hanigan drove in Cincinnati's final runs with his first career grand slam in the eighth off Justin Berg.

Afterward, manager Lou Piniella sat in the chair in his office, holding the bridge of his nose with his left hand while thinking about how his young relievers had melted down again.

"It's 3-2 in the seventh and we had the bases loaded with a chance to take the lead, and what did we lose? 14-2? That's hard to do," Piniella said. "We thought it (the bullpen) would be better than this. Boy, I'll tell you, it gets out of hand in a hurry."

Castro had an historic debut on Friday night, hitting a three-run homer in his first at-bat and driving in a record six runs. A day later, he had a couple of bad moments in the field.

The first one came in the third inning, when Brandon Phillips singled to the hole at shortstop -- Castro's long throw wasn't even close. Phillips then stole second by reaching around Castro's tag to get the base with his left hand, a veteran trick that worked on the youngest shortstop in Cubs history. Gomes' single made it 3-0.

Game notes
It was 81 degrees at the first pitch on Friday night, 51 degrees on Saturday night. ... The Cubs activated RH reliever Esmailin Caridad off the 15-day DL. He'd been sidelined since April 12 with a strained right forearm. Reliever Jeff Gray was optioned to Triple-A Iowa. ... Struggling LH reliever John Grabow went back to Chicago for a precautionary MRI on his sore left knee. No problem was found. Grabow will get a couple days of rest. He's 0-2 with a 9.26 ERA.