Critical grand slam costs Cubs in loss to Reds

by - Senior Writer -
The Cubs struck out nine times and left 18 stranded on a night of missed opportunities. (Photo Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports)
The Cubs struck out nine times and left 18 stranded on a night of missed opportunities. (Photo Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports)

CINCINNATI — A two-out rally provided the Cincinnati Reds (29-45) with a 6-2 win over the Chicago Cubs (42-30) in the opener of a four-game series at the Great American Ballpark. Scoring all six of their runs in the sixth inning, the Reds overcame a 2-0 deficit to down the Cubs, who lost, in large part, due to a questionable pitching change.

The Cubs struck first, collecting two runs off former New York Mets (31-41) ace and current Reds starter Matt Harvey. Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was hit by a pitch with one out in the third, and right fielder Jason Heyward followed that up with an infield single. Heyward had a great night at the plate, going 4-5. Second baseman Javier Baez then came through with a two-run double to deep right, putting Chicago ahead 2-0.

Chicago had other opportunities to score but left a total of 18 runners stranded on base in the contest. Harvey earned the win to move to 2-5. He struck out six and gave up five hits and one walk in six innings of work. Harvey's counterpart on the evening was Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. Despite avoiding the early-inning woes that have plagued him lately, Hendricks found himself in a jam in the sixth that he did not escape from on a positive note.

Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the sixth and then stole second base. Cincinnati eventually loaded the bases by drawing a two-out walk and hitting a two-out single. Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez worked a walk with the bases full to draw home a run and force Hendricks from the game. Walking four and giving up three hits, Hendricks saw a quality start come undone after 5.2 innings on the hill. He collected the loss to fall to 5-7.

Having thrown just 89 pitches, Hendricks could have reasonably been given the chance to get out of the sixth inning, but Cubs skipper Joe Maddon opted to bring young reliever Randy Rosario in to deal with the tough situation. Rosario, who was charged with a blown save, proved to not be up for it, as he gave up a grand slam on just his second pitch. The Reds' Jesse Winker plated four runs on a shot to center, giving the Reds a commanding 5-2 lead.

For good measure, after the Reds cycled through their batting order, Hamilton tallied an RBI single toward the end of the sixth to score Adam Duvall and put Cincinnati ahead by four runs. The Cubs had a chance to cut into the Reds' lead after loading the bases in the seventh. However, Reds reliever Amir Garrett struck Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo out swinging for the third out, leaving the score at 6-2, where it remained for the rest of the contest.

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