By John Fay
Enquirer staff writer
How far has Wily Mo Pena come? Greg Maddux is considered the smartest, craftiest pitcher working today. But twice in two innings, he couldn't fool Pena.
Pena launched long home runs in the fifth and sixth innings to lift the Reds to a 6-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs before a sold-out crowd of 41,829 at Great American Ball Park.
"That was a hell of a ball game, wasn't it?" Reds manager Dave Miley said.
And it was a happy night for the Reds because of Pena, who came up big against a big-time pitcher in a big situation in a hostile environment (it was Wrigley South again at Great American).
Maddux was trying to win his 15th game for the 17th straight year. And the Cubs were trying to move into first place in the National League wild-card race.
"I want to be a big player, like Moises (Alou), Sammy (Sosa) or Manny (Ramirez) someday," Pena said. "I think it will happen."
It could be sooner than anyone ever imagined.
Pena also threw out the tying run at the plate in the eighth.
"That was huge right there," Miley said. "Look what he's done since May - 26 homers, close to 70 RBI. Good for the kid."
Reds starter Aaron Harang had given up 11 home runs in his last three starts, and the Cubs came into the game leading the NL with 216 homers. So when Alou led off the second with his 36th home run of the year, it looked as if it would be another long night for Harang.
But Harang kept it at 1-0 through five innings.
Maddux, meanwhile, limited the Reds to two singles through 4 2/3 innings. But Pena crushed a 2-2 pitch to right-center - a shot estimated at 452 feet.
But things unraveled for Harang in the sixth. He walked Aramis Ramirez to start the inning, and Alou followed with home run No. 37. Derrek Lee and Sosa followed with back-to-back to singles, and Lee scored and Sosa moved to second on a wild pitch. But Harang was able to stop the bleeding there with the score 4-1.
The Reds solved Maddux in the sixth. Ryan Freel led off with a double and scored an out later when Sean Casey doubled. An out after that, D'Angelo Jimenez tied it with his 11th homer.
Austin Kearns followed with a single. Two pitches later, Pena took one out to left-center to give the Reds a 6-4 lead.
Harang went six innings, allowing four runs on six hits.
John Riedling took over and lasted one batter. He injured his left knee fielding a bunt.
Sosa got the Cubs to within one run with his 33rd homer, a long shot to left off Joe Valentine.
After Valentine gave up a hit to Mark Grudzielanek, the Reds brought in closer Danny Graves.
Graves gave up back-to-back singles but Pena threw out Grudzielanek at the plate on the second one.
"That wasn't a good throw," Pena said. "I didn't (have a good grip). I'm glad the ball stayed down."
Graves pitched the ninth for his 41st save, striking out Alou to end the game.
Reds 6, Cubs 5