The Cincinnati Reds had seven extra base hits, including four home runs, as they routed the Cubs 13-5 on Saturday at Great American Ballpark.
The Reds (9-9) offensive eruption helped Cincinnati defeat the Cubs (13-5) for the first time this season in six tries. Dan Straily lasted just 4.2 innings for the Reds, but the bullpen that received criticism from a former teammate, was able to preserve the lead with limited damage. John Lackey (3-1) suffered his first defeat as he made it into the sixth inning, but couldn’t record the final out before being charged six runs over his 5.2 innings.
The game looked like it was going to start the same as the two previous nights as the Cubs put runners on the corners in the first inning and then got a solo homer from Addison Russell in the second. Meanwhile Lackey was retiring the Reds in order through the first three innings.
The wheel began to come off for the Cubs starter as Zack Cozart doubled to begin the fourth inning. Eugenio Suarez followed with a single that scored Cozart thanks to an error by Russell. No error was needed to score Suarez as Brandon Phillips doubled to deep center, but got greedy trying to stretch it into a triple, and killed the Reds rally. The Cubs answered in the top of the fifth with a Dexter Fowler RBI double and a Kris Bryant RBI single to chase Straily with Chicago up 3-2. Blake Wood (2-0) finished off the inning and then tossed a scoreless sixth right before the Reds offense kicked things off.
Tyler Holt began the inning with a pinch-hit single in place of Wood, followed by a Cozart sinlge, and a Suarez three-run blast to seize the lead back for the Reds. Lackey caught a break when Phillips lined out into a double play to erase Joey Votto, but he walked Jay Bruce to keep the inning alive for the Reds and skipper Joe Maddon elected to go to his bullpen. Trevor Cahill came on to close out the inning, but Devin Mesoraco singled and then Adam Duvall smashed a three-run homer of his own. Scott Schebler put the finishing touches on the seven run frame as he made it back-to-back jacks for Cincinnati to give them a commanding 9-3 advantage.
Caleb Cotham came on in the seventh and made things a little interesting as Jason Heyward singled in a run and then scored on a Ben Zobrist RBI single to cut the lead to 9-5. Cotham got some breathing room to work with in his next inning as Votto hit a two-run shot off Neil Ramirez in the seventh to extend the lead to 11-5. Two walks in the eighth sandwiched two outs in the inning, leading Bryan Price to call on yet another reliever in the eighth. Tony Cingrani walked Heyward to load the bases, but avoided another bullpen implosion by getting Bryant to bounce into a force out at third,
Clayton Richard came out for the Cubs in the bottom of the inning and struggled mightily. He started by walking Cingrani who stayed in to hit, which also gave the Reds lefty reliever a chance to show off his wheels. Holt singled in the next at bat, but an error by Jorge Soler in right allowed Cingrani to score all the way from first base.Two batters later Suarez single home Holt to cap the Reds scoring at 13-5. Cingrani closed out the game with a scoreless inning, including back-to-back strikeouts of the final two hitters.
The Reds look for a series split with the first place Cubs, who currently sit 3.5 ahead of the Cardinals (9-8) and four ahead of the Reds and Pirates (9-9). Sunday’s afternoon affair will feature two pitchers who have gotten off to very different starts. Jason Hammel (2-0, 1.00 ERA) has allowed just two runs in his 18 innings of work including six scoreless against the Reds back on April 14. Alfredo Simon (0-1, 12.15 ERA) hung around for just 0.2 innings in his start against Chicago on April 13 when they tagged him for five runs. First pitch is set for 1:10 p.m.