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PIT@CHC: Rusin throws five strong for his first win

The Reds and Cubs are in contrasting positions.

Cincinnati has its magic number to clinch the National League Central down to four and can secure a playoff berth within a couple of days. Chicago holds the second-worst record in baseball and is using the final stretch of the season to rebuild and reload for the future.

While the Reds' seat in the postseason is all but guaranteed, manager Dusty Baker isn't looking at this final slate of games any differently.

"There are 16 games left. That's one-tenth of the season still right there," Baker said. "Those are big games. We want to finish strong, win as many games as we can, finish healthy, which is huge at this time of year. You want to clinch as soon as you can. A lot of that has to do with us just winning. If we have to get some help elsewhere, we'll take that, too."

There's a chance the Reds could clinch the division with a sweep Thursday at Wrigley Field, although they need the Cardinals to lose their last two games against the Astros.

"We have to take care of business," Chicago's Darwin Barney said. "Let's worry about tomorrow and win a game. Whether they clinch here or not, that's none of our concern. Our concern is winning games."

After Homer Bailey twirled a gem to win the series opener Tuesday, the Reds are hoping Wednesday's starter, Mike Leake, will have a repeat performance.

Leake (8-9, 4.69 ERA) bounced back from his 2 1/3-inning showing on Sept. 5 to earn a win last Tuesday.

He'll look to even his record as he faces off against rookie Chris Rusin, who will be making just his fifth Major League start.

Rusin earned the first win of his big league career Friday, holding the Pirates to two runs on four hits in five innings.

The 25-year-old southpaw struck out six -- a personal high -- and is being limited to 80 pitches per outing.

"I don't think it's hit me yet," Rusin said after earning his first win. "It'll hit me in the offseason when I've had time to think about it. Right now I'm pretending I'm still in Triple-A and doing what I do."

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the Reds are far from a Triple-A club. And with the return of Joey Votto, who wasn't in the lineup the last time these two clubs played, they provide an even tougher challenge.

"Without him, it was a good offense, and with him, it's even better," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Votto, who went 1-for-3 with a run and a walk in Tuesday's game. "You make mistakes and they have a chance to beat you up. It's a really good ballclub, and that's why the Reds and Washington have the best records in baseball."

Reds: Cozart expecting return to action soon
Shortstop Zack Cozart was optimistic that his return to the lineup could come any day now.

Cozart missed his 12th straight game Tuesday because of a strained left oblique muscle, but he took batting practice with the team -- something he hadn't done since Saturday.

"We're trying not to rush back," said Cozart, who was told to rest Sunday and Monday. "It felt great the first day I took BP and we came back Sunday, less than 24 hours later, it was a little sore from the day before. We decided to take it slow."

Cozart didn't want to set a return date but felt he may be back for this weekend's series with the Dodgers in Cincinnati.

• Infielder Todd Frazier earned his club's nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award for community service Tuesday.

The rookie performs charitable acts in the Cincinnati area as well as his hometown of Toms River, N.J.

"The honor is pretty nice," Frazier said. "I'm very blessed to even be nominated for it. I appreciate the Reds' organization for making me a nominee. I'm thankful. Any way I can give back, especially to my communities, feels real good for me. I'm happy to do it."

Frazier, who is a contender for the NL Rookie of the Year Award, also saved a stranger from choking in a Pittsburgh restaurant by performing the Heimlich maneuver earlier this season.

Cubs: DeJesus honored for charity work
The Cubs nominated outfielder David DeJesus as their candidate for the Roberto Clemente Award, mainly because of his wife, Kimberly.

The couple raised money and awareness to help a high school friend of Kimberly's who was suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). The two raised more than $28,000 for the ALS Association, Greater Chicago Chapter.

Dejesus is also active in supporting Chicago Cubs charities, in particular the club's RBI program (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities).

Worth noting
• Tuesday night's win marked Reds manager Dusty Baker's 3,000th game. He has managed 1,556 games for the Giants, 648 for the Cubs and now 796 for the Reds.

• Darwin Barney has gone 51 straight plate appearances, dating back to Sept. 5, without a strikeout. It's the longest current streak in the Majors. Comments