Hill's first career shutout sparks Cubs over sliding Reds

CHICAGO (AP) -- After a rough start in the majors, Rich Hill is
now dominating big league hitters.

Hill pitched a two-hitter for his first major league shutout and
Jacque Jones homered, leading the Chicago Cubs over the fading
Cincinnati Reds 4-0 Saturday.

Hill (6-6) struck out 10, fanning Edwin Encarnacion to end the
Cubs' first complete game of the season.

Hill became the first rookie to pitch a shutout for the Cubs
since Kyle Farnsworth did it on Aug. 29, 1999, at Los Angeles.

After starting this season 0-4, Hill was demoted to Triple-A

"You go through a learning curve and it just depends on when
you go through your ups and downs. Before it was a lot of downs and
I learned a lot. I went down to Triple-A, I got it together and
came back and now I'm throwing the ball with a lot more conviction
and confidence," said Hill.

Hill was 7-1 for Triple-A Iowa this season with a 1.80 ERA.

"He didn't go down there and pout or anything, he went down
there and pitched, which is what you want everyone to do," said
Cubs manager Dusty Baker.

Hill walked one and hit a batter in his first career complete
game and third straight win. The 26-year-old lefty has allowed just
four earned runs in his last five starts for an 0.97 ERA.

Sergio Mitre pitched the last shutout for the Cubs on June 14,
2005, against Florida. Greg Maddux threw the Cubs' previous
complete game last Sept. 27.

"Boy, it's been a long time since we've had a complete game and
a shutout," said Baker.

Cincinnati lost for the 14th time in 20 games since moving into
a virtual tie with St. Louis for the NL Central lead on Aug. 24.
The Reds began the day 3 games behind San Diego in the wild-card

"You play all season to come down to this last month and be in
the race and we are. We're playing ourselves out of it right now
but we're still in it. This team, if it gets hot, we could be all
right. Even though there's only 16 or 17 games left," catcher
David Ross said.

The Reds have not won consecutive road games since beating
Philadelphia Aug. 12-13.

Chris Michalak (1-3) pitched 4 2/3 innings in a spot start and
allowed two earned runs and seven hits.

Aramis Ramirez drove in two runs. The Cubs won for just the
seventh time in 27 games and have the worst record in the league.

Juan Pierre led off the Cubs first with a single and easily
scored on Ramirez's double. A throwing error by shortstop Royce Clayton in the fourth set up Geovany Soto's RBI grounder.

Ryan Theriot walked and stole second in the fifth. Ramirez
followed with a single up the middle for a 3-0 lead.

Reds manager Jerry Narron was pleased with Michalak's outing.

"He was fine. He worked out of a jam. They had the bases loaded
with no outs and he got out of it. Which was great. He did
everything he could. There were a couple of plays we didn't help
him with that hurt. He pitched well," said Narron.

Jones homered off Reds reliever Bill Bray in eighth inning. It
was his 25th of the season.

Game notes
RHP Carlos Zambrano will start for the Cubs on Sunday. He
missed his last two starts because of a sore back. ... Cubs 1B
Derrek Lee missed his second straight game to tend to a family
emergency, leaving his status for Sunday's game in doubt. ... Reds
hitting coach Chris Chambliss was suspended for Saturday's game for
leaving the dugout after being ejected on Thursday night in a 4-2
loss to San Diego. ... Reds star Ken Griffey Jr. was out of the
lineup for the 10th straight game with a dislocated second toe on
his right foot. ... Clayton left the game after getting hit by a
pitch in the eighth inning.