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CHC@CIN: Ramirez goes home to start a double play

CINCINNATI -- The Cubs got another player back from the disabled list. Now they just need to get the offense healthy.

Jonny Gomes drove in four runs, including three on his eighth long ball, and Drew Stubbs hit a solo homer and knocked in another run to power the Reds to a 8-2 victory Monday over the Cubs, who lost their seventh in a row. Chicago is now 7-20 against National League Central teams.

"We're in a tough place right now and we're going to keep grinding and keep fighting through it," starter Matt Garza said. "We're not going to roll over, and I don't think anybody is going to roll over for us. We're going to keep digging deep and keep going. There's still four months left of baseball to play, boys."

Garza took the loss in his first start off the 15-day disabled list and first since May 17, also against the Reds. The right-hander, who had been sidelined with a bone contusion in his elbow, gave up four runs on six hits over four innings and was lifted after throwing 81 pitches. His return leaves Jeff Baker (groin), Marlon Byrd (facial fractures), Andrew Cashner (shoulder), Reed Johnson (back) and Alfonso Soriano (quad) still on the DL.

"I felt strong -- I think it was 17 days off, not facing a hitter," said Garza, who fell to 2-5. "I don't think stuff-wise that I missed much. The curve wasn't there as much as I wanted, but picking the hitter apart in an at-bat was what I was rusty on -- you know, pitch selection."

The stadium radar gun registered at 94 mph consistently for Garza's fastballs, which was encouraging, and he threw some good sliders.

"It was pain free," he said. "There are some pitches it's still hindering, but that's to be expected and you keep going."

Manager Mike Quade said he expects Garza will be even better in his second outing after coming off the DL.

The Cubs can only hope the losing streak is over by then. This is Chicago's longest skid since dropping seven straight last July 27-Aug. 3. The Cubs have been outscored 44-20 in the stretch. They're batting .269 as a team, second best in the NL, but only .234 with runners in scoring position, which is 12th in the NL.

"To find an answer -- I'd be lying if I knew," first baseman Carlos Pena said about the stagnant offense. "I like what [hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo] talks about, which is we know what to do, we know what's right and go with what we know is right. That's all we can control."

Chicago actually scored first, as Darwin Barney reached on a fielder's choice in the first, advanced to third on Starlin Castro's single and scored on Pena's sacrifice fly.

The Reds tied the game in the second on Gomes' RBI single and went ahead 2-1 with one out in the third when Stubbs hit his ninth home run.

Chicago had another scoring opportunity in the third, when Kosuke Fukudome singled and Barney was hit by a pitch. One out later, Pena singled to right, but he went too far around first and was picked off on a 9-2-3 relay.

"You drop your head and head for second, being aggressive, and look up and you're in no man's land," Quade said.

The Reds loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, and Mike Leake hit a RBI single and another run scored on a fielder's choice by Stubbs to go ahead 4-1. Castro hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth to close to 4-2.

Garza was lifted for Jeff Samardzija, and he hit Joey Votto with a pitch to start the fifth. Jay Bruce doubled and Gomes followed with his three-run home run to back Leake (5-2). Cincinnati loaded the bases in the seventh and added another run on an error by Aramis Ramirez, who couldn't get a glove on Paul Janish's grounder.

"This is a homer friendly park," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "You can't just have other teams come in here and hit more home runs than you do. It's not our game. The last couple of years, we're a team that relies on the home run, and we can also play the short game, too."

Quade would love to see the Cubs take advantage of Great American Ball Park's dimensions and hit a few more into the seats.

"You're looking for that first and third, one-out double," Quade said. "We just haven't been able to get that three-run homer that Gomes provided for them. We're setting the table, and I'll go home tonight and figure out what we might do differently with [Edinson] Volquez tomorrow to try and score some runs.

"To me, it's very difficult when you are putting people on the bases and getting things started, and we just haven't been able to finish." Comments