Swanson delivers late homer lifting Cubs past Reds
Kamil Krzaczynski - USA Today Sports

Swanson delivers late homer lifting Cubs past Reds

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO — To say the past month-plus has been challenging for the Chicago Cubs (29-30) would be an understatement, as they turned the page on May and began June. After a hot start to the season that had them looking like a legitimate playoff contender, the Cubs endured a bit of deja vu, going just 10-19 in May after going 10-18 last May.

For whatever reason, May hasn't been kind to the Cubs the past two years. They went from being tied for first to third place and are now 6.5 games out of first. Looking to start June on a winning note, the Cubs welcomed the Cincinnati Reds (25-33) to Wrigley Field. They entered the game winners of five of their last seven.

After a three-plus hour rain delay pushed the start time past 9 PM central, this had more of a West Coast feel than a regular game. Throw in that the rain wasn't letting up by the first pitch, and it was starting to become a mystery as to whether or not this game would be played. Backed by a pair of homers, including Dansby Swanson's game-winning blast in the eighth, the Cubs picked up the win, topping the Reds 7-5.

With a matchup of Justin Steele and Hunter Greene, many felt that this would be the best game of the weekend. However, a lengthy delay mixed with wet conditions made life difficult for both starters as they allowed five runs across their outing. Steele fared better despite going just five innings as four of his five runs were unearned. He walked four and strikeout five although four of those five strikeouts came to the first four hitters.

Greene had a much different fate as he managed to get through six innings despite his five walks and multiple hit-by pitches. He also struck out five and allowed five runs, but unlike Steele, he was on the hook for all five runs in a rough outing. Most of the damage for both sides came in the second inning when eight of the 12 total runs were scored.

For the Reds, it all started with a one-out single from Tyler Stephenson as he continues to own Steele at the plate and is now 8-12 against him. That single was followed by a Jonathan India walk and a TJ Friedl hit-by a pitch as the Reds loaded the bases with one down. On the verge of escaping without damage, Steel got Luke Maile to fly into what looked to be an easy inning-ending flyout, only to have Seiya Suzuki whiff on the ball, allowing three runs to score.

Suzuki has been known to make blunders like that in the past. All three of those runs were unearned, and the fourth run, which came home on the Stuart Fairchild single, gave the Reds a 4-0 lead. Immediately following their big inning, it was the Cubs turn to do some damage of their own as they benefitted from the command issues of Greene.

Four batters into the inning, it was the Cubs loading the bases as Nico Hoerner, Swanson, and Miguel Amaya all took walks. Following a strikeout to Mike Tauchman, Greene was also on the verge of escaping a massive jam without damage, with Suzuki coming to the plate. Already with a triple to his name, Suzuki had a chance to redeem himself from that massive error and did so in a big way by connecting for his first career Grand Slam, and just like that, this was a 4-4 game.

Cincinnati kept the pressure on Steele in the third, loading the bases for a second straight inning only to have Steele get the job done this time. Then came the bottom of the third as a pair of hit-by-pitches to Christopher Morel and Ian Happ started another rally for the Cubs, with Hoerner putting the Cubs on top for the first time with an RBI single. Chicago had a chance to add to that lead, but a costly double play off the bat of Swanson killed the rally and kept the Reds in the game.

Steele continued to struggle as the fourth inning got underway, allowing a leadoff single to Maile and a Fairchild walk to put a pair of runners on with no outs. Maile would advance to third on the Elly De La Cruz single before coming home on the Jemier Candelario single to tie things back up 5-5. The play from Pete Crow-Armstrong changed the inning as he picked his first career outfield assist by gunning down De La Cruz at third to prevent an even bigger inning.

That was not only the Reds' final run in this one but also the final run for quite some time, as both bullpens were going to be given a challenging task. Whether it be Hayden Wesneski, Porter Hodge, or Mark Leiter Jr., the Cubs bullpen came to play as they responded from a rough showing in Milwaukee to allow minimal damage through three innings to keep things tied 5-5 heading into the bottom of the eighth.

After a scoreless seventh from Fernando Cruz, David Bell turned to former Cub Lucas Sims in the eighth, and after walking Hoerner with one out, the Cubs had the go-ahead run on the bases. One batter later saw Swanson come through with a massive hit as he connected for a huge homer to put the Cubs in front for good, 7-5. For Swanson, he was stuck in the middle of a 7-37 slump and is hoping this homer is a sign of things to come the rest of the way. Hector Neris was called on to pitch the ninth, and despite allowing a single, he took care of the rest to secure the Cubs 7-5 win.

With the win, the Cubs move back into second place in the NL Central, but are still under .500 as they look to put together a nice stretch of wins. The Cubs were outhit 10-6 in the victory with Suzuki leading the way with two hits and four RBIs. Hoerner, Swanson, Tauchman, and Pete Crow-Armstrong picked up the rest of the hits as the Cubs look to clinch the series on Sunday.

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