Reds beat Cubs, earn sweep and playoff berth

Henry Rodriguez collected his first two major- league RBI, and the Cincinnati Reds locked up a playoff berth courtesy of a 5-3 decision over the Chicago Cubs in the finale of a three-game set from Wrigley Field.

Joey Votto, Didi Gregorius and Xavier Paul also plated runs for the Reds, who swept the set and have taken seven of their last nine. They did it without manager Dusty Baker, who has remained in the hospital with an irregular heartbeat.

Johnny Cueto (18-9) walked four batters, but tossed six innings of five-hit, scoreless ball for the win as Cincinnati's magic number to clinch the NL Central dropped to two.

St. Louis, which remained 11 games back in second place, topped Houston at home.

"Anything less than winning the World Series is selling ourselves short," Votto said. "That's our goal."

Anthony Rizzo finished with two hits and two RBI for the Cubs, who have dropped five of their last six.

Manny Corpas (0-2) was strafed for five runs on six hits in the seventh inning. It ruined a solid outing from starter Jason Berken, who tossed six scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks with five strikeouts.

"For me, it's just a matter of stringing together a couple more good starts and going into the offseason on a positive note," Berken said.

The Reds snapped a scoreless deadlock with five runs in the seventh. After a Chris Heisey groundout, five straight hits led to the first three Cincinnati players crossing the plate. Singles from Denis Phipps, Ryan Hanigan and Gregorius made it 1-0, then Votto added a pinch-hit single and Paul brought in one more on a base hit.

Miguel Cairo grounded out, but Rodriguez added a two-run double to cap the burst.

David DeJesus walked with one out in the Chicago seventh, then scored two batters later on a Rizzo single, and the Cubs dodged a bullet in the Reds' eighth when Paul flied out with the bases loaded and two down.

Welington Castillo's homer in the bottom portion cut the hosts' deficit to three, then Alfredo Simon gave up singles to DeJesus and Darwin Barney in the ninth before a Rizzo grounder pulled the Cubs within 5-3.

The next two batters went down quietly and Cincinnati earned a trip to the postseason.

Cueto worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the second when Berken grounded into a fielder's choice, then induced an inning-ending groundout from his counterpart in the fourth with runners on the corners.

Berken retired Heisey on a flyout with two on in the first, and was otherwise sterling throughout the remainder of his outing.

Game Notes

Cueto improved to 9-6 in 18 road starts this season ... For Cincinnati, it is the franchise's second postseason berth in three years, and 14th in club history ... Though ailing, Baker became only the third manager in franchise history to lead the Reds to the playoffs more than once (Bill McKechnie, 1939, '40; Sparky Anderson, 1970, '72, '73, '75, '76) ... Prior to the game, the Cubs announced that "Kerry Wood Appreciation Day" will happen on Sunday before the series finale with St. Louis ... Actor and Chicagoland native Michael Madsen sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at the seventh-inning stretch.