The Cubs offense jumped all over Homer Bailey and the Reds on Wednesday night. Then another bullpen meltdown almost cost them the game, luckily disaster was averted and the Northsiders' pulled out a win.
The Reds threatened immediately against John Lackey in the 1st inning. Billy Hamilton hit liner to right field that he turned into a hustle double. Zack Cozart walked and Joey Votto singled to load the bases with none out. Eugenio Suarez hit a drive deep to left-center that Ian Happ caught at the track, the runners at second and third tagged and Hamilton scored. Scooter Gennett hit a shallow fly to left that Kyle Schwarber settled under. Cozart tagged, and for the second time in three games, Kyle got him at home for a double play.
The Cubs answered the Cincinnati run in a very big way in the bottom of the 1st inning. Ben Zobrist and Schwarber both lashed singles to left field against Bailey, Kris Bryant then walked to load the bags. Anthony Rizzo came up and hit a deep fly similar to Suarez's shot, but Rizzo's drive went over the wall in left field for a grand slam: just like that it was 4-1 Chicago. Homer then got the next three batters 1-2-3 to end the inning.
Lack had more trouble in the top of the 2nd, Billings Mustangs legend, Jesse Winker singled. Jose Peraza then walked and both runners advanced on a balk. Tucker Barnhart, swinging on a 3-0 count, popped out to second and slammed his bat in frustration. Pitcher Bailey grounded to Rizzo at first, Tony went home with the throw and Winker was out. After Hamilton walked, Cozart flied out to Schwarber to end the inning.
The Cubs added to their lead in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Rizzo hit a two-out hustle double of his own off of Bailey. Alex Avila followed with a long opposite-field single off the wall in left to score Rizzo and make it 5-1.
John Lackey was great after the second, in fact, he retired the last ten men he faced. The Northsiders' got another run in the bottom of the 6th inning. Jason Heyward walked and scored when Tommy La Stella, hitting for Lackey, doubled off the wall in left.
Hector Rondon came on in the 7th and got two quick outs on a Peraza fly out and a Barnhart strike out. Then another former Mustang (yes I go to a lot of their games) Phillip Ervin hit his first career homer to left. Hamilton reached on an infield hit that got just by Hector and advanced to second on a passed ball. That wouldn't matter, unfortunately not because Cozart got out, instead he hit a long bomb to left and it was 6-4. Brian Duensing relieved Rondon and got Joey Votto to finally supress the rally.
Duensing gave up a double to Suarez just over Jason Heyward's head in right to open the 8th. After a Gennett ground out, Joe Maddon called for Carl Edwards to face pinch-hitter Adam Duvall. The Edwards roller coaster took another dive as Duvall took him deep to left to tie the game at six all. CJ got the next two, but the damage was done.
Wandy Peralta gave up a double into the left-center gap from Javy Baez to open the 9th. Jon Jay pinch-hit trying to bunt, but walked on four pitches. Zobrist tried to bunt and appeared to get hit in the foot, on appeal first base umpire Chris Conroy said he bunted at it so it was a strike. Maddon lost it and got ejected by Conroy, in fact, I think it was the second maddest I've ever seen him. Zo did his job with a weak grounder to the pitcher that advanced the runners. Blake Wood entered for Peralta and Brian Price called for five infielders. Albert Almora struck out, but a wild pitch to Kris Bryant allowed Baez to scamper home, Cubs win 7-6!
John Wasn't Lackey-ing
After struggling early John Lackey settled down nicely in his start. It seemed like he was battling control problems early, possibly due to sweaty hands? He even stole a base in the 4th inning for the first time in his career, sure he got picked off later in the inning, but still. John was looking for his sixth-straight win, a feat he had never performed in his career. It looked like it was very likely to happen before the bullpen collapse.
Dr. Hector and Mr. Edwards
It seems like Hector Rondon and Carl Edwards have been all over the map this season, it's either lights-out or a total disaster for both this year. Rondon looked great to start his outing and then the wheels came off with two down. Edwards was brilliant escaping a jam last night, he was just as bad tonight. The Cubs second-half relief issues are starting to get more concerning each time a game like Wednesday happens.
Before striking out in the 7th inning Kyle Schwarber had reached base eight straight times at the plate. War Bear has begun to work better at bats the last few days, the question is will it lead to a surge in production? It's still too soon to tell, it was also nice to see him make a big defensive play on his double play in the 1st.
Remember I said it was the second maddest I ever saw Joe. This is the maddest.
#3- Joey Votto: not based on anything tonight, Votto saw his streak of reaching base at least twice snapped at 20. One more he would have tied the all-time record held by Ted Williams, he's good.
#2- John Lackey: 6 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 6 K, and 3 BB, should have gotten him a win on Wednesday, but all's well that ends well.
#1- Anthony Rizzo: 2-4, GS, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 R, you hit a grand slam, you get first star.
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