By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
CHICAGO - With Wily Mo Pena facing Kerry Wood in the ninth inning and the game on the line, the only question last year would have been whether it was going to be swinging or taking.
A strikeout was a given.
Not this year. The new and improved Pena's two-out double in the ninth inning drove in the winning run in the Reds' 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs before a season-high crowd of 40,607 on another sun-splashed day at Wrigley Field.
The opposite-field shot to right-center was - without question - the biggest hit of Pena's young career.
"Against Kerry Wood in that situation, it felt good," Pena said.
"A big, big hit," Reds manager Dave Miley said.
Pena was only in the lineup because Austin Kearns has an injured hand. In his two starts, Pena is 4-for-7 with three RBI.
This victory was as encouraging for the Reds as Thursday's 11-10 debacle was discouraging.
"When you're down 2-0 to Kerry Wood with the wind blowing in, you've got to fight to come back," first baseman Sean Casey said.
The comeback started in the seventh when Adam Dunn homered to make it a one-run game. The fight started in the ninth.
Wood's pitch count was over 112 by then, but he was still throwing up to 97 mph in the ninth.
"It looked harder than that," said Sean Casey, who led off the inning.
Casey fell behind 0-2 but kept alive by fouling balls off. Wood finally threw a slider. Casey shot it through the middle for a single.
Dunn followed. Dunn came into the game second in the National League in on-base percentage, so his eye is discerning. Discerning enough to take close pitches at 2-2 and 3-2 for a walk.
Wood disputed the ball-four call enough that home plate umpire Eric Cooper all but charged the mound.
"I thought the 2-2 pitch was up," Dunn said. "I thought the 3-2 (pitch) was a ball. I'm going to leave it at that."
That put runners on first and second with no outs, giving the Reds a chance to tie it by playing small ball.
Ryan Freel dropped down a beauty of a bunt, moving Juan Castro (pinch-running for Casey) to third and Dunn to second.
That brought up Jason LaRue.
"They were playing the infield back," LaRue said, "so I was just looking for something to put in play."
He drove a ball to deep left, and Castro trotted home with the tying run on the sacrifice fly.
Pena quickly fell behind 0-2. Wood threw a high-and-outside slider. Pena had seen the same pitch on Opening Day, when he chased it for a strikeout.
He took it Saturday, and Wood came back with an outside fastball for his 131st pitch. Pena drove it the other way for a double to bring in Dunn with the winning run.
Wood, still steaming over the calls on Dunn's at-bat, had more words for Cooper . Wood was ejected, even though he was coming out of the game. He charged Cooper, then threw a batting helmet on his way to clubhouse.
The Reds were as happy as he was unhappy.
"That was nice," Miley said of the rally. "Casey gets a big hit. Dunn walks. A perfect bunt from Freel. The sacrifice fly. A big two-out hit from Wily Mo. You can't ask for anymore than that."
Danny Graves, a day after giving up the lead in the ninth, closed it out for his fifth save.
Starter Cory Lidle got a no decision, but pitched well. He left the bases loaded in the first, escaping a one-out threat.
"That right there might have been the inning of the game," Miley said. "To get that double play ball there was big."
Lidle allowed the two Cubs' runs in the sixth.
That looked like it might be enough with the way Wood was throwing. But Dunn led off the seventh with the homer. It was Dunn's fifth home run of the year - all solo shots. In the eighth inning, Moises Alou robbed Ken Griffey Jr. of a hit with the tying run at third, and the Reds had that here-we-go-again feeling.
"(But) we battled our way back against a very good pitcher," Miley said.
|Griffey Jr. cf||4||0||0||0||0||1||.235|
LOB-Cincinnati 6, Chicago 6. 2B-WPena (1), Lidle (1), SSosa (8). HR-Dunn (5), off Wood. RBIs-Dunn (5), LaRue (2), WPena (3), ARamirez (11), DeLee (4). S-Freel. SF-LaRue. GIDP-ARamirez.
Runners left in scoring position-Cincinnati 4 (Griffey Jr., Freel, LaRue, Olmedo); Chicago 2 (Barrett).
Runners moved up-Larkin, ARamirez.
DP-Cincinnati 1; (Freel and Casey); Chicago 1 (ASGonzalez and TWalker).
|RWagner W, 1-1||1||0||0||0||0||0||13||4.15|
|Graves S, 5||1||1||0||0||0||0||13||5.40|
HBP-by Wood (Casey). WP-Wood 2.
|Wood L, 2-1||8 2/3||6||3||3||3||6||131||3.48|
T-2:29. A-40,607 (39,345).
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