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Homers haunt Cubs in series finale

Homers haunt Cubs in series finale

CHICAGO -- Ted Lilly would've liked to close the first half with his 10th win and join teammates Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano in that category. Instead, the Cubs will have to settle for two.

Ken Griffey Jr. belted a three-run home run, Brandon Phillips added a two-run shot and David Ross hit two solo homers -- part of seven total by Cincinnati -- as the Reds overpowered the Cubs, 12-7, on Thursday.

It's the second time this season the Reds have pounded seven homers off the Cubs. They also did so May 7 in Cincinnati.

"The Reds hit seven? I didn't even count them, to be honest with you," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "I know that the one that [Adam] Dunn hit counted for two."

Dunn launched his 24th with one out in the sixth, and it sailed over the right-field bleachers onto Sheffield Avenue.

Lilly was gone by then. The left-hander, who ranks fifth in the National League in home runs allowed, served up Edwin Encarnacion's homer in the second and Phillips' blast in the third, which gave the Reds a 4-3 lead. Lilly (9-6) was pulled after 2 2/3 innings, his shortest outing of the year.

"I didn't have my best stuff, but that's part of the challenge of the game is finding a way to win when you don't have your best stuff," Lilly said. "I understand what Lou was seeing. He was noticing I didn't have good stuff and that I wasn't getting ahead in the count. It was a pretty ugly inning [in the third], and I can understand him wanting to go in a different direction."

The last time the Cubs had three pitchers with at least 10 wins by the All-Star break was 1969, when four did so: Fergie Jenkins (13-7), Bill Hands (11-8), Ken Holtzman (11-5) and Phil Regan (10-5). The Cubs currently are the only team in the Major Leagues with three starting pitchers with at least nine wins. Lilly's next start will be July 18 at Houston in the first game after the break.

"Overall, I'm a little disappointed [in the first half]," Lilly said. "My expectations were a bit higher than my results in the first half. I'll enjoy the time off and prepare for a good run in the second half."

Lilly wasn't alone in the long ball department. Griffey connected off Michael Wuertz with two on and no outs in the fourth for his 12th this season and No. 605 of his career. Jon Lieber served up Dunn's blast.

"Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Brandon Phillips hits the ball out of the park -- Ross can hit -- they can hit," Chicago's Ryan Theriot said. "They're a good hitting team. You can't take anything away from them. They put the bat on the ball."

During Lilly's at-bat in the second, he fouled a ball off behind the Cubs dugout and it struck a young boy, who was taken to a local hospital. Lilly didn't see that -- he wasn't sure where the ball went -- and said it didn't rattle him.

"I had no idea. I hope he's OK," Lilly said.

The elements weren't a factor, either. The wind was blowing out at 12 mph.

"The bottom line is you're out there and you're trying to give up fewer runs than the other pitcher," Lilly said. "We scored seven runs today. If I hang in there and do my job, I can give us a chance to win. Six innings, four runs, three runs, I think we win that game. That's your responsibility as a starting pitcher, and not being able to do that is pretty disappointing."

Theriot, who singled in the first and scored on Derrek Lee's double, hit a two-run single in the second. Mike Fontenot belted a two-run homer with one out in the fourth for the Cubs against Bronson Arroyo (7-7).

Chad Gaudin, acquired Wednesday from the Athletics along with Rich Harden, made his Cubs debut in the seventh and served up Ross' second homer, a leadoff shot.

"The ball does carry here, and it goes out," Gaudin said. "You just make your pitches down, and you'll get outs."

The Cubs are carrying 13 pitchers, and Piniella said they need to trim that number by one. Having 13 meant Carlos Zambrano got a pinch-hit at-bat in the fourth, and Daryle Ward was needed to play the outfield when Kosuke Fukudome was lifted after fouling a ball off his right shin. For Piniella to give the tired-looking Fukudome a breather, he needs another outfielder.

The Cubs may have lost this home run derby to the Reds, but they won the series.

"We've got one more series before the break," Piniella said. "Let's play hard and win that one and enjoy a good time off."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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