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Starlin Castro's big day lifts Cubs to third straight win

CINCINNATI -- The Chicago Cubs' long night in New York
proved to cause no problems in Cincinnati.

Starlin Castro homered, scored four runs and drove in three
while extending his career-high hitting streak to 13 games and the
Cubs shook off their fatigue to pound out a 12-8 win over the
Cincinnati Reds in the opener of a four-game series on Monday.

The Cubs needed 11 innings to beat the Mets 10-6 on Sunday night
and didn't arrive in Cincinnati until 5:30 a.m. Monday, but they
still managed to get 16 hits, including three home runs and five
doubles.

"Coming off some rough travel and an interesting weekend in New
York, it was nice to see us come out and do that," said manager
Mike Quade, whose team participated as New York commemorated the
10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Aramis Ramirez also had three hits, including a double and his
25th homer of the season, and Jeff Baker added a home run as the
Cubs won a third consecutive game for the first time since Aug. 15
and matched their season high in runs. They also scored 12 in a
12-7 win over Milwaukee on June 16.

Brandon Phillips hit two of Cincinnati's four home runs and Juan
Francisco hit a tape-measure shot, but the Reds couldn't avoid
their third consecutive loss and fourth in five games.

Rodrigo Lopez lasted 5 1/3 innings to earn the win despite
allowing nine hits, including all four of Cincinnati's homers, and
five runs. Lopez (5-6) had a walk and a strikeout.

The Cubs pounced on Cincinnati starter Dontrelle Willis for
three first-inning runs and knocked him out of the game in the
fourth. Willis (0-6) gave up nine hits and eight runs, one
short of tying his career high, and walked three.

"Castro got us off to a good start," Quade said. "It was good
to give Rodrigo some run support."

Francisco got the Reds on the board with his third homer of the
season, a mammoth drive off of Lopez's 1-0 pitch in the second
inning. The 502-foot shot was second-longest at Great American Ball
Park since it opened in 2003 behind Adam Dunn's 535-foot shot to
right-center in 2004.

Somebody told him the ball hit a tree outside the stadium.

"I hit a couple out of the ballpark at (Single-A) Dayton," he
recalled. "It was just a good pitch to hit. I don't know if they
got the ball or not, but they put a branch up there."

Quade was surprised to hear the public address announcer
announce the distance before Francisco's next at bat.

"I can't remember the P.A. guy announcing how far a ball
went," Quade said. "How do they measure that?"

Willis followed one out later with a vicious line-drive single
off of Baker's glove at first base, and Phillips -- who got
his first day off on Sunday since Aug. 13 -- hit his 13th homer, a
459-foot shot into the second deck in left field.

The Cubs regained the lead in the third on Baker's third homer
of the season, a 372-foot opposite-field drive into the second row
of the right-field seats. They broke the game open with three runs
in the fourth, the first scoring on the first of Castro's two
doubles in the game. He added a two-run homer in the fifth, and
Ramirez led off the sixth with his 25th homer of the season.

"It was real tough," said Castro, who now has 190 hits and has
reached base at least once in a career-high 25 consecutive games.
"You know you're not going to sleep good. You've got to sleep
quick."

Phillips led off the Reds' fifth with his second homer of the
game, giving him two multihomer games this season and eight in his
career, and rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco hit the first pitch of
the sixth inning into the left field seats for his first career
home run.

Game notes
Reds utility INF Chris Valaika will have season-ending
surgery next week to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in
his right knee. He was hurt in the top of the fifth inning Sunday
at Colorado when his spikes caught in the dirt as he was swinging
at a pitch from LHP Drew Pomeranz. ... SS Zack Cozart, already
sidelined with Tommy John surgery on his left (non-throwing) elbow,
is scheduled to have minor surgery to clean out his right ankle.
... RHP Mike Leake's start Tuesday against the Cubs is expected to
be his final start of the season. Leake has logged 159 2/3 innings,
21 1/3 more than he pitched last season, and the club is trying to
limit him to an increase of about 30 innings. ... RHP Ryan
Dempster, Chicago's scheduled starter on Tuesday, is 2-0 with a
3.00 ERA in his last three starts against the Reds.