CINCINNATI (AP) — Alfredo Simon leads the National League in wins. He's still hoping to be added to the All-Star team.
Simon became the NL's first 12-game winner and Billy Hamilton added to his sensational series with a tiebreaking triple Wednesday night, sending the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-1 victory over the trade-depleted Chicago Cubs.
The Reds won their fifth in a row — matching their season high — and moved a season-best seven games over .500. After winning the first four games of the series, they'll try for their first five-game sweep since 1976 on Thursday.
Cincinnati moved within 2 1/2 games of first-place Milwaukee in the NL Central, its smallest deficit since April 7. The Reds were a season-high 8 1/2 out on June 22.
Simon (12-3), left off the NL All-Star roster Sunday, became the first Reds pitcher to win a dozen games before the break since Edinson Volquez also went 12-3 in the first half of 2008. The reliever-turner-starter gave up four hits in 6 2-3 innings, including Anthony Rizzo's third homer in four games.
If another pitcher has to pull out of the All-Star game next week, Simon would be considered.
"I'm really happy with myself," he said. "I think I have the numbers to be on the All-Star team. I don't know what's going to happen. They told me to stand by."
Hamilton tripled home a run and scored during a three-run fifth against Dallas Beeler (0-2), who has lost his first two starts in the majors. Cubs manager Rick Renteria was ejected during the inning for arguing a foul ball call with third base umpire Andy Fletcher.
Hamilton is 7 for 15 with three triples, three walks, two steals and seven RBIs during the series. On Tuesday night, his ninth-inning single completed the Reds' comeback from a five-run deficit to a 6-5 win and a doubleheader sweep.
Hamilton flied out in his last at-bat and left the game because his left hamstring was tight. He expects to miss a few games.
"It's been bothering me for the past couple of days," Hamilton said. "I knew something was happening. On the last at-bat, I stepped down and I felt it pull when I started running."
Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips also left in the eighth after spraining his left thumb while making a sliding catch. X-rays were negative. He wore a splint on the thumb as he left the clubhouse.