Carlos Pena hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth inning to send the Chicago Cubs to a 6-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night.
Aramis Ramirez had a two-run double for Chicago, which took two of three against Cincinnati to earn a split of its six-game homestand. Starlin Castro and DJ LeMahieu each had two hits for the Cubs.
Castro sparked the winning rally with a leadoff single against Logan Ondrusek (4-4). Reed Johnson moved Castro to second with a sacrifice before the Reds decided to intentionally walk Ramirez and bring in left-hander Bill Bray to face the lefty-batting Pena.
Big mistake, at least Wednesday night.
Pena pulled Bray's first pitch onto Sheffield Avenue for his 26th homer and third in his last eight games.
The big first baseman began the day with a .135 average against lefties, and Bray was holding lefty batters to a .188 average. But this time it didn't work out for the Reds.
Yonder Alonso had three hits for Cincinnati, which has lost seven of 10. Joey Votto went 2 for 4 and drove in a run.
Kerry Wood (2-5) pitched a scoreless eighth for the victory and Carlos Marmol worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 33rd save in 42 chances.
The Reds chased starter Ryan Dempster with three consecutive hits to begin the seventh inning, including pitcher Johnny Cueto's leadoff infield single. Votto hit a sacrifice fly off James Russell to trim Chicago's lead to 3-2 and Jay Bruce followed with a bouncer down the third-base line for an RBI double.
The Cubs brought their infield in for Alonso, who hit a fly ball to medium center field. Johnson got in good position, brought it in, then fired a strong throw to catcher Koyie Hill that cut down Edgar Renteria at the plate.
Chicago got a big inning-ending double play in the sixth when Ramon Hernandez lined to shortstop Castro, who threw to LeMahieu before Alonso could get back to second base.
Dempster allowed 10 hits _ matching a season high _ and is winless in his last five starts.
Cueto retired 11 of his first 12 batters before running into a bit of trouble in the fifth. Pena led off with a double to right-center for Chicago's second hit. He moved up on a wild pitch and scored on LeMahieu's tying two-out single, but Cueto got Hill to fly out to end the inning.
The Cubs added two runs in the sixth on Ramirez's clutch double. Castro sparked the rally with an infield hit on a dribbler up the third-base line. Johnson singled to center before Ramirez hit a drive into the corner in left to make it 3-1.
Cueto allowed seven hits in seven innings and his ERA increased from 2.29 to 2.36.
Cincinnati pushed across a run after Dempster quickly retired the first two batters of the game. Votto hit a well-placed fly ball to left that landed in front of Alfonso Soriano, then rolled past him for a triple. Bruce walked before Alonso hit a liner up the middle for an RBI single.