Cubs good--at giveaway

The Cubs, who have just two victories to show for their seven Wrigley Field dates this season, failed to make themselves at home Saturday against Cincinnati.

Elmer Dessens (1-3) blanked the Cubs over 7 1/3 innings before giving way to relievers Gabe White and Scott Sullivan as the Reds won 6-1 before an announced crowd 36,476 well-chilled fans.

The game-time temperature was 45 degrees with winds gusting to 30 m.p.h., creating a 33-degree windchill.

"It was a good day to pitch. Just ask Elmer," said Cubs loser Kerry Wood (2-1), who was the victim of three unearned runs in a sloppy first inning.

Barry Larkin opened the game with a base hit and Wilton Guerrero reached on a bunt single. Sean Casey then hit a fly ball to left that Roosevelt Brown dropped for an error to load the bases. Wood retired Adam Dunn and struck out Aaron Boone before Juan Encarnacion lined a two-out double down the right-field line to clear the bases. Encarnacion drove in four of the Reds' six runs.

Brown said Casey's fly ball "just hit my [glove] heel. I blame myself. The wind took it at the last minute and I couldn't make the adjustment."

Wood walked four batters to force in a run and threw 39 pitches in Cincinnati's three-run fifth inning. The other two scored on an infield hit. With the bases loaded, Reggie Taylor hit a dribbler to second baseman Delino DeShields, whose flip to first was late. Dunn and Boone, hustling home from second, scored for a 6-0 Reds lead.

Wood departed at that point, having allowed six runs (three earned) while striking out six and walking six (one intentional) in 4 2/3 innings. Wood had allowed only three earned runs total in his first three starts this season.

"We let him down defensively," Cubs manager Don Baylor said. "When you're trying to pitch out of a jam early in a game, bases loaded, you think he's just about there. ... On a day like this, it's almost like whoever scores first [will win]. I thought Wood threw the ball well."

Brown hit his second home run in as many days in the ninth inning to avert a shutout. But it hardly made up for the ball he dropped in the first inning.

"If I was in a dome and dropped that ball, I would have taken [the mistake] to the plate," Brown said. "Those kinds of mistakes are part of baseball."

Dessens, who threw only 100 pitches, was grateful for the first-inning cushion.

"The way the wind was blowing, after they got me three runs I was feeling pretty good," he said. "I was just throwing strikes and I didn't ever feel cold."

Dessens allowed six hits, walked one and struck out shortstop Alex Gonzalez four times.

"I've just got to look forward to [Sunday], prepare myself to get a couple of hits," Gonzalez said.

Wood entered the game with a 6-0 record and 1.34 ERA in seven career outings against the Reds.

"I had good stuff," Wood said. "The bottom line today was that it was ugly all around."

Captions: PHOTO: Cincinnati's Sean Casey slides past Cubs catcher Robert Machado's attempted tag to score the third run in the first inning Saturday. Tribune photo by Bonnie Trafelet.