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CIN@CHC: Ludwick goes 3-for-5 with four runs scored

CHICAGO -- It wasn't exactly a thing of beauty, but after dropping a season-high five straight games, the Reds don't care much about style points.

All they wanted on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field was to get back to winning, which they did in a nerve-wracking 10-8 victory against the error-prone, yet resilient Cubs (44-67).

Despite holding leads of 5-1 in the third inning, 8-3 in the sixth and 9-6 in the eighth, the Reds (67-46) still needed a four-out save by fireballing closer Aroldis Chapman to finally get their first win on a road trip that started Monday in Milwaukee.

"I personally can't believe we lost five in a row, but it happens," said Ryan Ludwick, who went 3-for-5, scored four runs and somehow managed to hit his 20th homer of the season into the teeth of a strong wind blowing in from center field. "This is a really, really big win, especially for the fact that we had to fight for it. It wasn't an easy win. They kept coming back. They kept fighting, and we had to keep putting up more runs, and eventually we got it done."

As for those style points, the way the Cubs played most of the day (five errors) made the Reds' performance look far less sloppy by comparison. The Reds also had their slumbering bats wake up for the first time since leaving Great American Ball Park, after stranding 28 baserunners and going 1-for-19 (.053) with runners in scoring position in the first four games of this trip.

They rapped out 15 hits, got some help from the strong wind gusts and were also aided by those five Chicago errors. And that's not mentioning the Cubs' two wild pitches, a passed ball and at least one glaring poor decision on the basepaths by Starlin Castro to kill a potential rally in the sixth.

Ludwick's homer knocked in two runs during a three-run third that also featured three Cubs errors, as the Reds pushed their lead to 5-1 at that point. Todd Frazier then knocked in three of his four runs of a 3-for-4 performance over the next five innings of Cincnnati's offensive outburst -- helping his team stay just ahead of the Cubs' continued comeback attempts.

"We don't harp on what happened yesterday or the day before," Frazier said of the snapped losing streak and offensive struggles. "We just keep on doing what we have to do. This is a pretty good win for us, but getting 10 runs on the board is pretty nice."

The win extended the Reds' lead in the National League Central to three games over the Pirates, who were in action against the Padres on Friday night.

It was anything but easy, though, and the strong wind wound up being a pretty big factor -- wreaking havoc on anything hit that wasn't a ground ball or a line drive.

"There was a popup near second base that ended up 30 rows up in the stands [behind our dugout]," said manager Dusty Baker. "And then on the [double] that [Welington Castillo] hit [in the sixth], [right fielder Xavier Paul] was doing the Salsa and Meringue and La Cucaracha and everything else. That was a tough day out there. I'm just glad we got the win."

Homer Bailey (10-7) started and earned the victory, which gave him a career high for wins in a season. The wind conditions and some bloop hits, though, put him in some tough spots. Bailey went 5 2/3 innings and allowed four earned runs on nine hits and two walks, but he did limit the damage during some sticky situations in the first and third.

Bailey also gave the Reds their first lead with an RBI single in the second, and they never trailed again, despite nearly coughing up the lead a couple of times.

The Cubs refused to go down quietly, despite trailing most of the game. They cut the deficit to 9-8 in the eighth after doubles by Castillo and David DeJesus, but Chapman made sure that's where the comeback bid ended.

He struck out rookie Anthony Rizzo on four pitches to end the eighth, registering 102 mph on his final pitch of that frame, and then retired three straight in the ninth to secure the win. In all, Chapman fanned three of the four hitters he faced and made it look pretty easy.

"Whenever he comes in, it's more of a relaxed state and you know he's going to throw that fire," Frazier said. "So, you've just got to be ready for it. When a righty's up and I'm playing first, I'm ready for it. It's nice to see him come in and work his magic."

It wasn't nearly as nice for the Cubs, who were led by Castillo's two doubles. Castro smacked a big two-run double for the second straight game and Alfonso Soriano drove in three runs, but overall it was a tough day for the guys in light blue pinstripes. In addition to the five errors, Cubs pitchers combined for two wild pitches to go with a passed ball and Castro's ill-advised decision to go from first to third on a single in the sixth that killed a potential rally.

"Not the prettiest game we've played all year, that's for sure," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.

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