An exhausted and fatigued Chicago Cubs team did battle with the cellar dwelling Cincinnati Reds, and it showed early on. Matt Harvey and Cole Hamels each made it through three innings without surrendering a run. The Cubs managed a two out hit in each inning against Harvey, but the big hit eluded the Cubs offense once again.
Cole Hamels set done the first six Reds he faced. He struck out half of those Reds, and looked impressive. Unfortunately thoughts of the pitcher who ended the Cubs no-hit streak pitching his second no hitter at Wrigley on the 10 year anniversary of Carlos Zambrano's no hitter. Curt Casali hit a soft single up the middle to lead off the third inning. The handsome southpaw walked Billy Hamilton with one out. Scott Schebler then hit a rocket right at Anthony Rizzo, and the Cubs leader stepped on first to end the inning.
The Reds broke through in the fourth inning with José Peraza and Joey Votto hitting back to back home runs to start the inning. The Reds threatened to make it an even bigger inning as Hamels lost Eugenio Suárez on a 3-2 pitch. Scooter Gennett then jumped on the first pitch to single into left. Kris Bryant's misplay allowe Suárez to reach third on the play. Hamels got the 3-2 call against Phillip Ervin for the first out. Casali hit a groundball at Báez and the rocket armed shortstop fired home to nab Suárez at the plate. Hamels struck his counterpart to keep the Cubs within two runs.
The Reds defense gave the Cubs a scoring chance in the fourth inning. Báez hit a groundball underneath Suárez's glove for a single. Victor Caratini hit a groundball to Gennett, but the man they call Scooter decided to try to get Báez at second. Originally the call was out, but the review gave the Cubs two runners on base with no outs. David Bote hit the ball harder than Caratini and Gennett was given the chance to convert the easy double play. Hamels came to the plate and he remains an excellent pitcher. The Cubs ended the fourth down 2-0.
Hamels pitched out of trouble in the fifth and sixth inning. Matt Harvey didn't have any of the same issues as he retired the six Cubs batters, but at the end of the sixth inning the score was still locked at 2-0. Hamels hit Dillson Herrera with a pitch to start the seventh. He struck out Billy Hamilton, but Scott Schebler hit a fairly deep but easy fly ball out. Joe Maddon had seen enough and Dillon Maples entered the game. Peraza hit a sharp lineout to Murphy to end the inning.
David Hernandez started the bottom of the seventh inning. The Victory Carrot remained hot with a leadoff single, and David Bote hit a tricky hop groundball to Suárez that bounced off the slugger's shoulder to give the Cubs two runners on. Tommy La Stella entered the game as a pinch hitter and bounced into a fielder's choice that moved Caratini to third base. Ian Happ then launched the 1-0 pitch for what would turn out to be the game winnning blast. The Cubs threatened to bust it up. Amir Garrett retired Anthony Rizzo, and then Jim Riggleman went to Michael Lorenzen who rewarded his skipper by loading the bases for Báez. Javy popped it up to end the inning.
Jaime García was what Joe Maddon deemed his best option with Pedro Strop, Justin Wilson, Jesse Chavez and Carl Edwards Jr. unavailable. The lefty had to face the heart of the Reds order and somehow retired the dangerous Votto, Suárez and Gennett in order to send the Cubs back to bat. Lorenzen didn't give the Cubs any chance to extend their lead, and in entered Jorge de la Rosa for his first big league save. Phillip Ervin bounced a ball right at David Bote for the first out, but Casali hit a gapper for a double. Riggleman inserted a pinch runner, but he remained planted at second when pinch hitter Tucker Barnhart hit a relative easy catch for Bryant in left. De la Rosa lost Billy Hamilton on pitches to add to the drama, but a Scott Schebler pop fly was caught by Ian Happ for the Cubs 84th win. Unfortunately the Pirates weren't able to help at all, but none of that matters as long as the Cubs keep winning.
If you were completely confident that the Cubs would pull this one out at any point in the seventh inning or later, you are either lying or a homer. And we are only allowed one of those.