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Rapid Reaction: Reds 5, Cubs 3

9/21/2012

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs were swept after a 5-3 victory by the Cincinnati Reds, who clinched a wild-card playoff berth with the victory.

HOW IT HAPPENED: After new Cubs starter Jason Berken cruised for six innings, the Reds jumped on reliever Manny Corpas for five runs. The Cubs finally got on the board in the seventh with an RBI single from Anthony Rizzo. With a fourth-inning triple, Starlin Castro recorded a hit in six consecutive at-bats going back to Wednesday. The Reds reduced their magic number for clinching the National League Central to three.

WHAT IT MEANS: So much for the thought that Castro might become complacent after signing a long-term contract at the end of August. With a clear mind, a hefty wallet and confidence to work deeper in counts, Castro is crushing the ball again as his six consecutive hits showed. Castro’s triple also makes him the sixth Cubs player in the last 50 years to hit at least 12 triples in a season.

OUTSIDE THE BOX: After an uninspired Cubs debut last weekend when he gave up six runs on eight hits over four innings to the Pirates, Berken found his groove in start No. 2. The right-hander gave up just two hits over six innings with two walks and five strikeouts. Berken will get two more starts this season to make a case for himself heading into spring training next year.

OFF BEAT: Darwin Barney’s errorless streak nearly came to an end in the seventh inning. The Reds’ Denis Phipps hit a ball up the middle that Barney gloved. Despite not much of a chance to get the out at first base, Barney threw anyway and the ball bounced past first baseman Rizzo but did not go into the Reds’ dugout. Phipps was safe on an infield single and because he didn’t advance, there was no error. He now has 135 consecutive games at second base without an error.

UP NEXT: The Cubs will send right-hander Chris Volstad (3-10, 6.26 ERA) to the mound Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals in the opener of a three-game series. The Cardinals will counter with right-hander Chris Carpenter (0-0, 0.00) in the 1:20 p.m. start from Wrigley Field.