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Hernandez Homer Helps Reds Top Cubs, 7-2

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Ten fruitless outings, three trips to the minors, and Casey Coleman still is searching for answers.

The Chicago Cubs right-hander, winless in the majors since May 19, felt lost on the mound after lasting just 3 2-3 innings in a 7-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night.

"I didn't have command," Coleman said. "I felt like I didn't know how to pitch."

Ramon Hernandez hit a three-run homer in the second inning, and the Reds overcame the loss of pitcher Johnny Cueto to win their second straight against Chicago after losing the series opener on Monday.

Coleman (2-8) gave up six runs, six hits and three walks. Since winning at Florida on May 19, he is 0-5 with a 7.98 ERA in eight big league starts and two relief appearances, a span that included three trips to the minor leagues.

Manager Mike Quade said Coleman will continue to get opportunities.

"As long as he's healthy, I don't know where else to go," Quade said. "His velocity's good. He just got hit around. That was a tough outing. It's been a struggle for him. He didn't make enough quality pitches."

Hernandez's 12th homer of the season but first since Aug. 5 put Cincinnati ahead, and Juan Francisco hit a two-run double in the third, which particularly upset Coleman because of the situation.

"I had a base open with Francisco," Coleman said. "I've faced him in the minor leagues, and he's hit me pretty good. I've got to be able to execute pitching around him there. Instead, I threw a changeup right down the middle, and he drives in two runs."

Coleman was 4-2 with a 4.11 ERA in eight starts and four relief appearances with the Cubs last season.

"He got an opportunity last year, and he made the most of it," Quade said. "It's been a tougher go this year. He's got to do a better job to stay here. His soft game has to be better as far as throwing quality strikes with his curve and changeup."

Cueto, the major league leader with a 2.31 ERA, left after 3 2-3 innings because of a strained muscle in the upper right side of his back.

The right-hander was visited by a trainer and pitching coach Bryan Price with one out in the fourth inning. After getting Alfonso Soriano to pop out, a trainer and Dusty Baker went to the mound, and the manager removed Cueto.

Cueto, who allowed three hits, will be re-examined Thursday. He didn't make his first start of the season until May 8 because of irritation in his right upper arm.

Inheriting a 5-0 lead, Sam LeCure (1-1) pitched 2 1-3 innings for the win. He allowed a pair of sixth-inning runs when Carlos Pena hit an RBI double and scored on Alfonso Soriano's groundout.

After Hernandez put Cincinnati ahead, Juan Francisco hit a two-run double in the second. Chris Heisey added a solo homer in the eighth off Ramon Ortiz, his 16th.

While the Cubs are 65-84, Quade is hoping for a positive final two weeks.

"Finishing strong is big," he said. "If we're going to do that, then individual players are going to have to finish strong."

NOTES: Cubs SS Starlin Castro, who had his career-high 13-game hitting streak stopped on Tuesday, went 2-for-3 to extend to 27 his streak of consecutive games in which he's reached base at least once. ... RHP Randy Wells, scheduled to start for Chicago in Thursday's series finale, has won a career-high five straight decisions. He is 5-0 with a 3.02 ERA over his last eight starts. ... RHP Homer Bailey, Cincinnati's scheduled starter, has an 8-7 record, but the Reds are 9-10 in his starts.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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