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Maddux falls short, and so does bullpen
Greg Maddux said he was seeing white spots as he began to wear down in the fifth inning of the Cubs' 9-6 loss to the Reds Thursday at uncomfortably hot Great American Ball Park.
The 36,498 fansmany of whom were from Chicagosaw two errors, a costly balk and three Reds home runs that left the Cubs with a disappointing split of a four-game series.
"It was frustrating. They took that game from us," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said after his team dropped its second in a row.
"We were hoping Greg could have gone a little longer. But after running the bases a couple times, plus that double play he tried to beat out
you could tell he was running out of gas."
Maddux fans also were hoping to see pitching history made Thursday, but the 39-year-old right-hander left the game after notching four strikeoutstwo shy of the 3,000 mark.
"I wasn't feeling that good. I was seeing those little white things floating around. I was done," said Maddux, who gave up three runs on nine hits, including two homers. Reliever Roberto Novoa, who balked in the tying run in the Reds' five-run eighth inning, was charged with the loss.
Rich Aurilia homered off Maddux to start the second inning to make it 1-0. But the Cubs responded with a five-run fourth inning off Reds starter Eric Milton. Todd Walker highlighted the six-hit inning with a three-run homer, his seventh of the season.
The Reds charged back with a two-run homer by catcher Javier Valentin to make it 5-3. Valentin added a second homer in the sixth off reliever Michael Wuertz to pull the Reds to 5-4.
"You have to try to keep it in the park here," Maddux said. "I didn't do it very well."
The Cubs appeared to gain some momentum in the seventh when center fielder Jerry Hairston made what appeared at the time to be a game-saving diving catch of an Aurilia drive with the bases loaded.
"I got a good jump on it off the bat," Hairston said. "I was running as fast as I can and I was going to catch it. Give them credit. They came right back the next inning and they didn't let that affect them."
The Reds caught the Cubs in the eighth inning when Novoa balked in the tying run as the batterSean Caseyappeared to distract him by stepping in and out of the batter's box.
"It was just a young mistake," Baker said. "But, you know, we had some chances early in the game to put some more runs on the board and put that game relatively out of reach."
Novoa had given up a single to Wily Mo Pena and a walk to Valentin before pinch-hitter Ray Olmedo sacrificed the runners to second and third. The pinch-hitting Casey worked the count full before Novoa balked home Pena to make it 5-5.
Ryan Dempster took over for Novoa and retired Felipe Lopez after he rapped a sharp drive off the pitcher's body. Ken Griffey Jr. was walked intentionally to load the bases before Austin Kearns (3-for-5), just recalled from Triple-A Louisville, drove in a pair of runs with a sharp single to center to make it 7-5.
Adam Dunn was walked intentionally to reload the bases. On an 11-pitch at-bat, Aurilia singled up the middle to score a pair of runs.
"By the time the plane lands in St. Louis (for a weekend series), we have to forget about this," Baker said.