Aramis Ramirez hit his second homer in two days and the Chicago Cubs beat the struggling Cincinnati Reds 5-3 on Saturday for their ninth victory in 12 games.
Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley added solo shots to back a strong start by Kevin Hart (2-1) and send the Reds to their fifth straight loss.
Ramirez gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead in the first with a two-run drive after compiling four hits the previous game. Soriano added his 17th homer in the fifth off Johnny Cueto, and Bradley, after getting booed, connected against David Weathers in the eighth for his first career pinch-hit homer.
That was enough for Hart, who allowed one run over six innings in place of injured Ted Lilly to win his second consecutive start.
Lilly went on the disabled list before the game with inflammation in his left shoulder, and Cubs first baseman Derrick Lee left before the top of the eighth because of back spasms.
The Reds got solo homers from Joey Votto and Jonny Gomes in the ninth off Aaron Heilman that made it 5-3 before Kevin Gregg came on to retire Jerry Hairston Jr. for his 20th save in 23 chances.
It was another rough day for the Reds and Cueto (8-7). The right-hander allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings while falling to 0-3 in his last four starts.
He barely made it out of the first after Cincinnati scored a run in the top half. Lee hit an RBI triple that was misplayed by right fielder Chris Dickerson, and then Ramirez went deep.
That set the tone for the Cubs on a day when their lone All-Star went on the DL and another key player had to leave the game.
Lilly also expects to have arthroscopic knee surgery Monday and likely won't be back until at least mid-August, a major blow for a team that began the day 1 1/2 games behind NL Central leader St. Louis.
His fill-in wasn't bad, though.
Making his third start, the 26-year-old Hart allowed five hits after having his turn moved up a day. He even saved a run in the fourth with a neat barehand stab on Edwin Encarnacion's chopper with a runner on third, drawing cheers from a crowd that let out a few groans when the Reds scored first.
NOTES: With Lilly on the DL, the Cubs called up right-handed reliever Justin Berg from Triple-A Iowa. Manager Lou Piniella said he considered putting Sean Marshall in the rotation, but that would have left the bullpen without a lefty. He also thought about starting Jeff Samardzija on Sunday rather than move the rest of the rotation up a day. Instead, Rich Harden will start Sunday, with Carlos Zambrano pitching Monday against Houston. ... Reds C Ryan Hanigan was a late scratch from the lineup because of a stiff neck. Craig Tatum started in his place. ... Reds CF Willy Taveras came up limping in the second after he jammed his right leg while crashing into the ivy to rob Reed Johnson of an extra-base hit. Taveras stayed in the game.