Hill gives up 3 hits over 7 innings; Cubs blank Reds

Turning point: The Cubs gained steam after Cesar Izturis brought home Cliff Floyd after executing a suicide squeeze in the fifth.

Hero: Cubs starter Rich Hill has gotten off to a quick start, allowing just four hits -- three today to the Reds -- and one run in his first two starts.

Quotable: "It's really a fun park to play in and manage in because of all the elements. It's almost like playing the British Open." -- Lou Piniella

Elias Says: Soriano's 8th-inning RBI, his first of the season, came in his 43rd 2007 at-bat. Over the past 40 years, only four other players coming off seasons of driving in 90-or-more runs had gone as many at-bats into a season before getting their first RBI: Graig Nettles, 43 at-bats without an RBI for the 1977 Yankees; Mike Greenwell, 52 with the 1990 Red Sox; Steve Finley, 46 for Arizona in 2001; and Juan Gonzalez, 57 with the Rangers in 2002.

-- ESPN.com news services

Cubs 7, Reds 0

CHICAGO (AP) -- Rich Hill is carrying a strong finish to last season into a new year and showing the potential to be a consistent winner for the Chicago Cubs.

"Knowing you belong here is a thing you have to have," Hill said Saturday after his sharp pitching and some small-ball offense helped the Cubs end a four-game losing streak by beating the Cincinnati Reds 7-0.

Pitching on seven days' rest, Hill limited the Reds to three singles over seven innings on a cold and windy day at Wrigley Field. In his first outing this season, Hill allowed only one hit and one run in seven innings against the Brewers.

"I was making them cause the action, making them swing the bat. That's as simple as I can make it," Hill added.

It took Hill 10 major league starts before he got his first win last August and then he went 3-1 in September. Now as the fourth starter in the rotation, he's pitched like an ace.

Hill (2-0), who had his only major league shutout against the Reds in September, was backed by strong defense that turned a pair of double plays. He did walk four, a surprise since he didn't walk a batter during spring training or in his first start.

"He's serious about his business. He goes out after you throwing strikes and he changes speeds. Rich can win a lot of ballgames for us this year," said Cubs manager Lou Piniella, who finally got his first win at Wrigley Field after three straight losses.

"Mike Barrett asked me if I wanted a baseball and it was a great gesture on his part. And I said, 'No," Piniella added.

"But yeah, it feels good to win a ballgame here and build on it. It's really a fun park to play in and manage in because of all the elements. It's almost like playing the British Open."

The Cubs broke through against Bronson Arroyo in the fifth, using a sacrifice fly by Ronny Cedeno and a suicide squeeze bunt by Cesar Izturis to take a 2-0 lead.

They drove the lanky Arroyo out in a five-run seventh inning that began with an error on Reds first baseman Jeff Conine for missing a throw.

"I just missed it. It was in the air. I should have caught it," Conine said.

Alfonso Soriano had an RBI infield hit and Ryan Theriot a run-scoring single to finish Arroyo (0-2). After reliever Jon Coutlangus walked Jacque Jones to load the bases, Derrek Lee hit a three-run double off Victor Santos.

"That's the way it goes man. I always say, it's 162 games and a long roller coaster. I'm just starting out on the bottom of the tracks. It'll turn around," said Arroyo, a 14-game winner and All-Star last season.

Michael Barrett and Floyd opened with singles in the fifth and moved up on Arroyo's wild pitch. Cedeno delivered the sacrifice fly to left, also moving Floyd to third. With Floyd breaking for the plate, Izturis fell down in the box as he reached for the ball and dropped the bunt out in the front of the plate to make it 2-0.

"My job is the put the ball in play and if it goes away, try to make contact. That's what I did," Izturis said.

Floyd reached on Conine's error in the seventh and moved up on a sacrifice by Cedeno and a grounder. With two outs, the Reds intentionally walked pinch-hitter Daryle Ward and Soriano then beat out a grounder to shortstop to make it 3-0. Theriot followed with an RBI single to center to finish Arroyo. Moments later, Lee cleared the bases with a drive to right-center.

Why walk Ward to face Soriano? Because Soriano was just 2-for-19 against Arroyo entering the game.

"There was no reason for me to face a guy from the left side fresh off the bench that I don't know a ton about when I got a guy like Soriano that I've completely manhandled my whole career," Arroyo said.

"So, you know, I thought it was a good move. I got the ball I wanted from Soriano. I thought he was going to strike out or something weak. He just put it in a pretty good spot and (shortstop Juan) Castro couldn't quite make the play."

Bob Howry replaced Hill for the eighth and Ryan Dempster pitched the ninth to finish the six-hitter.

Game notes
Lee has hit in all 10 of the Cubs' games. ... The win came one day after Piniella's angry outburst during a postgame news conference. ... The Reds' Ken Griffey Jr. and the Cubs' Lee, Jones, Ward and Floyd will wear No. 42 during Sunday's game to honor Jackie Robinson. Cubs coaches Gerald Perry and Lester Strode will also wear the number. ... The gametime temperature Saturday was 46 and the wind blew in at 17 mph. Announced attendance was 38,598.