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Patterson, Barrett, Lee go yard for Chicago

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Mark Prior watched the ball sail toward the wall and figured he was in big trouble. With a last-second burst and a dangerous lunge, Corey Patterson took his worries away.

Patterson made two catches against the wall that pulled Prior through an ominous first inning Tuesday night and hit one of Chicago's three homers in steadying the Cubs to a 7-1 victory over Cincinnati Reds.

Patterson, Michael Barrett and Derrek Lee hit solo homers that helped Chicago secure a split of the two-game series. The Cubs hit seven homers during the series, two each by Patterson and Lee.

Prior (2-0) has won both of his starts since recovering from a sore elbow that forced him to begin the season on the disabled list. The right-hander gave up four hits and an unearned run in seven innings, striking out six.

"I'm still fighting things," said Prior, who made only one spring training start. "Will I be where I want to be next week? Next year? I don't know. I'll just keep working at it hard."

Prior had a foreboding first -- all four batters hit the ball hard. Fortunately for Prior, his center fielder was able to track down two at the wall.

Ken Griffey Jr. hit a fly ball that Patterson caught with his shoulder shoved into the padding left of the 404-foot marker. It was the closest Griffey has come to a homer all year.

After Sean Casey lined out, Joe Randa hit a drive to the right of the 404-foot marker. Patterson ran it down and snared the ball just before slamming hard into the padding. He landed awkwardly on his back and did a backward roll but held onto the ball.

"I have to play this park a couple steps deeper because the ball travels so well," Patterson said. "Still, they were tough plays."

The crowd of 25,373 gave Patterson an ovation as he ran off the field, and teammates waited in front of the Cubs' dugout to congratulate him on the catch.

"I didn't think anybody was going to catch it," said Prior, one of those who lingered on the field. "He put on the afterburner and went after it. That's the play of the game. It settled me down."

After that, Prior pitched to expectations. He allowed only an unearned run on shortstop Nomar Garciaparra's first error on a bad throw in the fourth inning. Cliff Bartosh completed the four-hitter.

Reds starter Brandon Claussen (0-1) was relieved just to make it to the mound. The left-hander was the only player left in the majors who opened the season on a roster but hadn't made it into a game. His last appearance was April 1 in Dunedin, Fla., the Reds' final spring training game.

Claussen made it through five innings, giving up seven hits and four runs. He struck out six, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch in an uneven performance that could be passed off on the long layoff.

On his 11th pitch, Aramis Ramirez hit a grounder off his right foot for a single. Claussen threw a few practice pitches and decided to keep going.

"It felt good to be out there," Claussen said. "Even taking that ball off my foot, there was no way I was coming out of that game. It bothered me a little bit, but that little burst of adrenaline kicked in and I was good to go."

Patterson homered in the first, and the Cubs scored three more in the third. Prior led off with a single, Jerry Hairston doubled and Patterson reached on an infield single, loading the bases. Ramirez's broken-bat single to center drove in two runs, and Patterson continued home when Griffey's short-hop throw to Randa at third bounced away for an error.

Barrett, who broke an 0-for-26 slump earlier in the game, homered in the sixth off right-hander Todd Coffey, who was making his big-league debut. Lee homered in the eighth off Joe Valentine.

Griffey was 0-for-3 with a walk, leaving him without a homer in 42 at-bats. In 1991, he didn't homer until his 45th at-bat, his longest season-opening drought. Griffey, who tore his hamstring off the bone last August, also failed to hit a homer in 48 at-bats during spring training.

Game notes
After getting a day out of the starting lineup to rest, Garciaparra went 0-for-5 without hitting the ball out of the infield, dropping his average to .163. ... Prior singled in his first at-bat. Cubs pitchers are 11-for-25 (.440) this season. ... The Cubs are 3-2 on a seven-game road trip that concludes with two in St. Louis. ... Griffey's last homer -- the 501st of his career -- came last July 8 off Milwaukee's Wes Obermueller.