The Chicago Cubs played much better than their previous outing and split the series with the Cincinnati Reds in a 6-3 victory on Sunday afternoon.
Jason Heyward was back in the lineup after a day off and led off with a swinging strikeout against Reds starter Luis Castillo. Nicholas Castellanos followed with a sharp single up center, but Kris Bryant struck out swinging and Anthony Rizzo popped up to first to end the inning.
Cubs starter Jon Lester faced Nick Senzel in the leadoff position for the Reds, and he struck out on a foul tip. Joey Votto also struck out (called strikes), and after a single from Eugenio Suárez, Aristides Aquino did not hit a home run against the Cubs, but instead got the third out by grounding into a forceout.
The Reds scored in the bottom of the third. Senzel walked with two outs and then stole second base. Votto doubled to right to score Senzel, and Suárez then walked. Aquino singled sharply up center for another RBI and the inning ended with the Reds ahead 2-0.
Suárez homered to right center in the fifth inning to bring the score to 3-0 in favor of the Reds.
The Cubs finally got on the board in the top of the sixth. Heyward led off with a single, and Bryant followed with another after a strike out from Castellanos. Rizzo lined out to right field, and Javier Báez doubled to left to score Heyward. The Cubs now trailed 3-1.
David Phelps relieved Lester in the bottom of the sixth. Lester went five innings with five hits, three runs (all earned), three walks, and seven strikeouts. Phelps had a 1-2-3 inning, with a flyout from Philip Ervin, a strikeout from Kyle Farmer, and a ground out from Tucker Barnhart.
Ian Happ just missed a home run in the seventh. The ball hit the top of the wall and was ruled a double. After a groundout from Victor Caratini, pinch-hitter Tony Kemp grounded out to first base and Happ scored. Heyward singled, and the Reds then pulled a double switch, putting Josh VanMeter in the game in left field and Michael Lorenzen on the mound in relief of Castillo. Lorenzen faced Castellanos first, who singled to left. Bryant then put the Cubs in the lead 5-3 with his 23rd home run of the year. The Reds then sent Amir Garrett to the mound, and he got a ground out from Rizzo to end the inning.
The Cubs sent Rowan Wick to the mound for the bottom of the seventh. Heyward moved from center to right field and Albert Almora Jr replaced Kemp in center. Wick made quick work of the Reds, with a strikeout from VanMeter, a ground out from Senzel, and a strikeout from Votto.
Happ made up for the missed home run in the seventh by launching one to left field in the eighth to add some insurance for the Cubs. Caratini followed with a two-out walk, but the Cubs would add only one run to pull ahead 6-3, as Almora lined out to right to end the inning.
Heyward led off the ninth against new Reds pitcher Robert Stephenson and struck out swinging. David Bote pinch hit in Wick’s spot and also struck out swinging, followed by fly out from Bryant.
Bote remained in the game at second, Happ moved from second base to left field, and Pedro Strop closed it out for the Cubs in the bottom of the ninth. He faced pinch-hitter Brian O’Grady, who flew out to center. After a walk to Barnhart, Strop struck out VanMeter and got Senzel to pop out to second to end the game.