Ian Happ finished a single shy of the cycle while playing in his college town. (Photo Credit: Jason Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)
Ian Happ finished a single shy of the cycle while playing in his college town. (Photo Credit: Jason Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)

Happ shines, but Cubs lose on walk-off walk

by - Senior Writer -

CINCINNATI — The late, great Ernie Banks would have been pleased with the first act of a doubleheader between two longtime National League Central foes on Saturday afternoon. Yes, the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds were scheduled to play two as part of a rainout makeup at the Great American Ballpark, and the back-and-forth affair that took place in the first game culminated in a thrilling 5-4 win by the Reds in extra innings.

Chicago missed the mark in the opening inning, floundering after getting men onto first and second base to begin the game. Boasting a one-out, bases-loaded situation, Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber grounded into a double play to end the frame. The Reds, on the other hand, came through with a runner in scoring position, as shortstop Jose Peraza scored after walking, stealing second and motoring home on an RBI single from second baseman Scooter Gennett.

In the top half of the third inning, the Cubs were able to even the score after the one-two punch of Albert Almora, Jr., and Kris Bryant at the top of the order came through again. Almora, Jr., singled to lead off, and Bryant followed that up with a double to deep right-center that scored Almora relatively easily. Almora, Jr., tweaked his ankle on the damp infield in the first inning but showed no signs of ailment as he sped home in the third.

In the next inning, former National League MVP Joey Votto put the Reds back on top. Leading off with a double to right, Votto went on to score from third on a sacrifice fly by Eugenio Suarez. Making amends for Votto's run, Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks took matters into his own hands in the sixth.

Hitting a towering double toward the warning track in left-center, Hendricks tallied his third career double to score Ian Happ, who tripled in the previous at-bat. Eliciting plenty of excitement from the Chicago bullpen, the Hendricks double made the score 2-2.

On the mound, Hendricks was decent through the first five innings, but he came undone in the sixth. Sparked by an error from Cubs shortstop Addison Russell at the start of the inning, the Reds scored two runs in the sixth to go up 4-2 and chase Hendricks from the contest. After the Russell error, which put Peraza on first, Hendricks walked Votto, gave up an RBI single to Gennett and allowed an RBI double off the bat of Suarez.

Relief pitcher Randy Rosario was called up for the second time in less than a week on Saturday morning to occupy the Cubs' additional 26th roster spot for the doubleheader, and he saw two innings of work in game one. Rosario was brought in after the Reds took a 4-2 lead, and he escaped the sixth inning unscathed.

Hendricks finished with a stat line of six hits, six strikeouts and two walks in five innings of four-run ball. His counterpart, Reds starter Luis Castillo, gave up six hits and five walks but just one run. Arguably pulled too soon, Castillo paved the way for the Reds to use five relievers, who gave up a combined three runs.

One such reliever was Amir Garrett, and he nearly incited a bench-clearing brawl by way of his over-the-top celebration following a punchout of Cubs second baseman Javier Baez to end the top of the seventh.

Likely serving as retribrution for Baez's showboating after a grand slam off Garrett last year, Garrett's excessive celebration irked Baez. The two began chirping at one another, leading to the benches clearing. Nothing came of the meaningless fracas, and Garrett did not retake the mound thereafter.

Reds closer Raisel Iglesias was brought in at the start of the eighth inning, with the Reds leading 4-2, and he proceeded to lose the lead for Cincinnati. Happ led off with a solo shot to left-center for his sixth home run of the year.

A former star collegiate player for the Cincinnati Bearcats, Happ had himself quite a game in his college town on Saturday afternoon. Narrowly missing out on the cycle, Happ went 3-4 with a double, a triple, a home run and a walk. Out of all the Cubs' National League opponents, Happ's career batting average is the highest against the Reds.

Visibly flustered after the home run, Iglesias struggled to regain command, and he went on to give up an RBI double to Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo that scored Tommy La Stella and tied the game up at 4-4. The Reds went on win 5-4 in the 11th inning, though, as Chicago reliever Justin Wilson imploded to lose the game for the North Siders.

Bryant, who went 3-6 at the dish, led off the 11th with a single and stole second with one out. However, the Cubs left him stranded, which was a theme of the game. The Cubs went 1-16 with runners for the worst such percentage in baseball this year. Despite collecting 12 hits, as compared to the Reds' eight, the Cubs had nothing to show for it when it was all said and done.

In the bottom of the 11th, Wilson, who produced a solid 21-pitch outing the night before, was miserable, walking in the winning run without recording an out. A walk, a single and another walk culminated in Wilson walking the Reds' Billy Hamilton to bring Scott Schebler in to score.

Losing 5-4, the Cubs fell to 23-19, while Wilson (1-1) picked up his first losing decision of the season. As for the Reds (16-30), reliever Dylan Poro earned the win to become 1-0. The victory served as the first win for the Reds tallied via a walk-off walk since 2003.

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