CINCINNATI (AP) — Rookie right-hander Randy Wells took a shutout into the eighth inning Monday night, and Mike Fontenot hit a three-run homer off slumping Aaron Harang, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 4-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

After stumbling through the first half of the season, the Cubs have gone 20-10 since July 1, pulling into the thick of the NL Central race. They are 13-5 since the All-Star break, the best mark in the majors.

Wells (8-4) has been a big part of the turnaround. The 26-year-old was called up on May 8 and has been one of the league’s top newcomers. He allowed six hits, including Alex Gonzalez’s solo homer, over 7 1-3 innings while getting his fourth straight victory.

Fontenot homered in the second inning off Harang (5-13), who leads the majors in losses. Harang hasn’t won since May 25, going 0-9 in his last 13 starts. It’s the deepest slump of his career and the longest losing streak by a Reds pitcher since Danny Graves lost 10 straight between the 2003 and 2004.

Heading into the series, Cubs manager Lou Piniella had one concern. Closer Kevin Gregg blew both of his save chances in Florida over the weekend and reported that his pitching arm felt tired. Piniella wanted to give him a couple of days off to recharge.

Carlos Marmol gave up a run-scoring double by Gonzalez in the ninth inning before retiring Willy Taveras on a grounder, earning his fourth save in eight chances.

While the Cubs have made a U-turn at midseason, the Reds have gone the other way. They have dropped 13 of 14 and 19 of 23, consigning them to last place in the NL Central.

The Cubs know they’re in good shape when their run total reaches three. The Cubs are 53-15 when scoring at least three runs, the best mark in the majors. They reached the dividing mark on one swing.

Fontenot homered for a 3-0 lead in the second. Fontenot had been in a 5-for-36 slump and hadn’t homered since the last time he faced Harang, on July 24. Derrek Lee doubled home another run in the eighth off Harang, who gave up six hits and struck out a season-high 10.


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