For all their struggles this season, the Cubs have flourished playing within their division.
That continued Friday, as Aramis Ramirez drove in three runs and Geovany Soto homered in Chicago's 6-4 win over Cincinnati. The Cubs improved to 40-24 against National League Central opponents, the best mark in the division. They are 9-4 against the Reds and have a winning record against every team in the Central except the division-leading Cardinals.
Ramirez broke a 1-1 tie in the third with a two-run single and Soto added a solo shot off Justin Lehr (4-2) in the fourth. Soto, who also had a sacrifice fly, gave the Cubs a 4-1 advantage with his first long ball since July 10.
After Rich Harden gave up one run but walked five and threw 103 pitches in four innings, manager Lou Piniella brought in Jeff Stevens (1-0) to start the fifth. The rookie promptly gave up a pair of singles, and one out later, surrendered a game-tying three-run homer to Jonny Gomes.
The Cubs quickly regained the lead, however, as Kosuke Fukudome led off the bottom of the fifth with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out single from Ramirez.