Alou-sing Effort

CINCINNATI, Ohio - Moises Alou hit two homeruns to tally three runs, but a five-run sixth inning ended the Cincinnati Reds' three-game losing streak and gave them a 6-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs Saturday night.<BR><BR> With San Francisco also losing Saturday, the Cubs, for the fifth day straight, failed to gain ground on the Giants in the National League Wildcard standings.

Alou's two bombs pulled him one shy of his career-high of 38 set back in 1998, his first season with the Houston Astros.

His first of the evening was a solo shot to lead off the second inning against Cincinnati starter Aaron Harang. The deuce came innings later in the sixth after Harang (9-9) walked Aramis Ramirez to lead off the inning, and then served up a two-run shot to Alou that gave the Cubs a 4-1 lead at the time.

The Reds got their first run on a Wily Mo Pena homerun to center with two away in the fifth off Cubs starter Greg Maddux.

Maddux (14-10) cruised through the first five innings, in which he allowed only three hits. Ryan Freel and Sean Casey doubled to make it 4-2 before D'Angelo Jiminez cracked his 11th homerun of the season to tie things at 4-4.

Four pitches later, Pena struck again, hitting a two-run homer to left center after an Austin Kearns single, giving the Reds a 6-4 lead.

Sammy Sosa brought the Cubs closer with his 33rd homer of the year, an eighth inning solo shot off Joe Valentine to make it 6-5.

Neifi Perez singled to right to start the ninth, but Ramirez hit a softly-hit grounder to short that resulted in a rally-killing 6-4-3 double play.

Alou then struck out to end it, as Danny Graves worked his 41st save of the season. Graves tied Eric Gagne for second place in the National League in saves, and moved one behind league-leaders Jason Isringhausen of St. Louis and Armando Benitez of Florida.

St. Louis can officially clinch the Central Division with a victory Sunday.

Harang gave up four runs in six innings, striking out six for the victory. Maddux also struck out six.

The Cubs remain a half-game back of the Giants in the Wildcard standings, and now remain only a half-game ahead of Houston for second place after the Astros topped Milwaukee Saturday, 4-3.

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