Reds beat Cubs to stop four-game losing streak

Sonny Gray allows two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings

The Cincinnati Reds opened a nine-game homestand, the longest of the season, with the type of victory that will make fans think — once again — they are much better than their record indicates.

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The Reds beat the Chicago Cubs 6-3 on Friday at Great American Ball Park, pulling within five games of first place in the National League Central Division. At 37-42, the Reds are right where they have been 24 times this season: five games under .500.

A six-game winning streak raised hopes for the Reds. A four-game losing streak, which ended Friday, dashed them. Now the Reds start rebuilding those hopes again.

The numbers say the Reds should be better. Entering this series, the Reds had outscored their opponents by 40 runs, which gave them an expected won-loss record of 43-35.

“You never want to make too big a deal out of any one game, but yeah, it’s an important homestand,” Reds manager David Bell said before the game. We’re playing teams in our own division, good teams. We got to the point where we were playing really well, and it was important for us as a team to see how good we can be. I know that stretch went a long way. Now it’s a matter of bouncing back, and we now we get to do it at home.”

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The Reds, who lead the season series 5-2, jumped on the Cubs early, scoring six runs in the first four innings. A groundout by Jose Iglesias scored a run in the first. Phillip Ervin hit a home run, his first of the season, in the second.

In a four-run fourth, Nick Senzel had a two-run double, and Joey Votto and Iglesias drove in runs.

Sonny Gray pitched a shutout until giving up a two-run home run to Jason Heyward with one out in the seventh. He left the game after the home run. In 6 1/3 innings, he struck out six and allowed four hits, lowering his ERA from 4.03 to 3.94.

NOTES: Joey Votto recorded four hits for the 24th time in his career. His single in the fourth was the 1,800th hit of his career. … The crowd of 36,919 was the second-largest of the season at Great American Ball Park.

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