The best way for Jason Kubel to protect that balky hamstring? Just jog around the bases.
Out of the lineup for the last four games because of a sore right hamstring, Kubel returned Wednesday night and homered in his first two at-bats, powering the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 7-1 victory that dropped the Cincinnati Reds back into a first-place tie in the National League Central. The outfielder hurt his hamstring when he slipped on wet grass at Wrigley Field during a loss on Friday night. He felt good after a strenuous workout on Tuesday, so manager Kirk Gibson decided to put him back in the lineup for the third game of their series against the Reds.
When a thunderstorm hit shortly before the start of the game on Wednesday, Gibson asked Kubel if he felt comfortable playing on another wet field.
"I talked to him about it and he said he was fine," Gibson said.
Better than fine.
Kubel hit a two-run shot in the first inning and a solo homer in the fourth off Mat Latos (7-3), who lost for the first time since April 18. Latos forced in a run with a bases-loaded walk in his second-shortest start of the season.
"That was nice, a fun one today," Kubel said. "I knew I'd be in there today and it would feel good. There wasn't a concern about it."
The two quick homers reminded the Diamondbacks of how much Kubel means to the offence. They had scored one run or less in four of their last five games.
"You miss him when he's not in there," said Ian Kennedy (7-8). "He's one of our more consistent guys. He has good at-bats even when he doesn't get hits. After a couple of days off, he was fresh. He was hitting the ball really good tonight."
Kennedy made the early lead hold, giving up eight hits and a run in eight innings. He struck out seven and didn't walk a batter.
Kennedy used his fastball to get out of early threats, then turned to his breaking ball later in the game.
The Reds have lost two of three since learning that first baseman Joey Votto needed surgery on his left knee. He's expected to be sidelined for three to four weeks.
Votto had torn cartilage repaired on Tuesday. He was in the Reds' clubhouse on Wednesday, getting treatment and defending the decision not to have an MRI on the knee for more than two weeks.
Aaron Hill singled in the first inning, extending his hitting streak to nine games. Kubel followed with a homer to centre, extending Great American Ball Park's streak to 71 consecutive games with a homer since last July 29.
It's the longest such streak since Coors Field had 80 games with a homer in 2002-03.
Kubel led off the fourth with his 17th homer, his first multi-homer game of the season
LOS ANGELES — Matt Kemp hit a two-run homer in the 12th inning, giving Los Angeles the victory.
Rookie left-hander Jake Diekman (2-0) walked Mark Ellis with one out and Kemp drove a 1-0 pitch the other way into the pavilion seats in right-centre for his 13th home run and sixth career walkoff homer, capping the 4-hour 25-minute marathon.
Jamey Wright (4-2), the sixth Dodgers pitcher, worked one inning for the victory as the Dodgers ended a four-game losing streak.
Hunter Pence hit a two-run single in the 10th inning with the bases loaded to give Philadelphia a 3-1 lead.
WASHINGTON — Jordan Zimmermann pitched six shutout innings and Adam LaRoche hit a two-run homer to lead Washington.
Steve Lombardozzi added a two-run double as Washington the Mets a sixth straight loss.
Zimmermann (7-6) won his fourth straight, allowing just four hits in six innings, striking out four and walking none.
Sean Burnett worked a scoreless eighth, but Tyler Clippard allowed two home runs in the ninth to David Wright and Jason Bay. Clippard struck out Jordany Valdespin for his 15th save.
DENVER — Garrett Jones had three hits, including one of Pittsburgh's four home runs, and Pedro Alvarez also homered to lead the Pirates over the Rockies.
James McDonald (10-3) struggled through five tough innings for the win, and Rod Barajas and Casey McGehee also went deep for the Pirates, who took two of three in the series.
Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez homered, and Andrew Brown had three hits for Colorado. One of Brown's hits, an RBI single in the fourth, tied it 6-all before the Pirates took control.
Jones started the fifth with a single off reliever Matt Reynolds (3-1) and McGehee followed with his eighth homer of the season. One out later, Barajas homered to make it 9-6.
MILWAUKEE — The Brewers pounced on Adam Wainwright and a shaky St. Louis infield early then held on through a nervous ninth inning for a win over the Cardinals.
Francisco Rodriguez walked in a run before getting Lance Berkman to fly out with the bases loaded, nailing down his second save since taking over as the team's closer Tuesday night.
Wainwright (7-10) got off to a rough start and didn't get much help from his infielders, who committed three errors in the Brewers' four-run first inning -- including a pair by shortstop Rafael Furcal. The Cardinals have dropped five of their last six.
Deposed closer John Axford (3-6) claimed the win.
SAN DIEGO — Yonder Alonso drove in three runs and San Diego used a five-run fourth inning to beat Houston for its fourth win in five games.
Clayton Richard (7-10) allowed four runs in 8 1-3 innings to snap a two-game losing streak. The left-hander gave up nine hits, including two home runs by Matt Downs, and struck out two. Richard added an RBI double in the sixth.
Huston Street came on in the ninth and earned his 15th save.
Wandy Rodriguez (7-8) allowed five runs and four hits over four innings, snapping a streak of 48 games in which the left-hander had lasted at least five innings.
Cubs 5, Marlins 1 (7 innings — rain)
CHICAGO — Starlin Castro homered and the Chicago Cubs batted around in a four-run seventh inning to beat Miami in a rain-shortened game.
Heavy rain began falling with Miami batting in the top of the eighth and the teams never returned to the field. The game was called after a 1-hour, 17-minute delay.
Castro hit his eighth home run of the season off Marlins starter Josh Johnson (5-7) leading off the fourth. Jeff Baker highlighted a seventh-inning rally with a two-run, pinch-hit double with the bases loaded.
James Russell (3-0) pitched a scoreless seventh to earn the victory in relief of Jeff Samardzija, who struck out nine in five innings.
Giants 9, Braves 4 (11 innings)
ATLANTA — Brandon Crawford and Gregor Blanco hit three-run homers in the 11th inning for San Francisco, which blew a two-run lead in the 10th.
Anthony Varvaro (1-1) hit Eli Whiteside with a pitch to open the 11th before walking Brandon Belt. Chad Durbin replaced Varvaro and struck out Joaquin Arias.
Crawford's homer off Durbin came one pitch after he fouled a ball off his right knee and collapsed to the ground in pain. The left-handed hitting Crawford then pulled the next pitch from Durbin into the seats in right.
Chipper Jones's second throwing error of the game allowed Justin Christian to reach base. With two outs, Durbin issued an intentional walk to Melky Cabrera before giving up Blanco's homer to make it 9-3.
Jones homered off Brad Penny in the 11th.
The Giants were one out from the win when Brian McCann hit a tying two-run homer off Santiago Casilla (3-4) in the bottom of the 10th. It was Casilla's sixth blown save in 29 opportunities