Joe Price pitched a two-hitter and Cesar Cedeno hit a two-run homer in Cincinnati yesterday, as the Reds swept a four-game series for the first time since 1980 by beating the winless Chicago Cubs, 5-1.
Left-hander Price, 26, a reliever turned starter, had a perfect game until Jody Davis led off the sixth with a single. Wayne Nordhagen's seventh-inning homer was Chicago's only other hit as the Cubs lost their sixth in a row, their worst start since going 0-7 in 1962.
Price struck out four and walked one in his second start since 1980.
The Reds scored four runs on just two hits in the second inning. Chicago starter and loser Dickie Noles--free on $650 bail on disorderly conduct charges stemming from a fight in a Cincinnati bar Saturday night--first walked Dan Driessen and Ron Oester. Then Dann Bilardello, in his first major-league at bat, hit a two-run double. One out later, Cedeno, playing his first game of the year after missing five with a groin pull, hit a two-run homer to left.
"We wanted to give him a chance to pick himself up and to pick the club up," Cubs Manager Lee Elia said of Noles, who lasted just 2 1/3 innings after his attorney entered an innocent plea in the case yesterday morning. "We hoped he would give us a good one."
Noles, 26, declined comment after the game. Elia said the pitcher would return to Chicago to start a rehabilitation program while the rest of the Cubs go on to Montreal for a two-game series. Noles is still scheduled to pitch Saturday in Pittsburgh.