Lackey falters as Cubs drop series finale against Reds

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Cubs starter John Lackey is now a woeful 1-4 with a subpar 4.88 ERA this season. - David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Cubs starter John Lackey is now a woeful 1-4 with a subpar 4.88 ERA this season. - David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

CINCINNATI -- Costly errors and pitching mistakes proved to be the ruination of the Chicago Cubs today in their series finale against the Cincinnati Reds. Despite taking two out three in this road series, the Cubs fell on Sunday 7-5, as they were unable to overcome starting pitcher John Lackey's struggles, providing the recently-maligned starter with his third loss of the young season.

Lackey continued his recent early-inning struggles on Sunday, giving up one run apiece in each of the first two innings. Former MVP Joey Votto incited the action in the first by bringing Reds leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton home on a sacrifice fly. Hamilton, who leads the majors with nine stolen bases this year, terrorized Lackey and Cubs catcher Miguel Montero in the process of setting up his score on the sacrifice. Hamilton stole second and third after procuring a hit to center to start the bottom of the first. In the ensuing inning, Reds right fielder Scott Schebler took Lackey deep for a solo shot that put the Reds up 2-0. Schebler had himself a solid outing at the plate today, going 2-4 with two RBI.

Unlike Lackey, veteran Reds starter Bronson Arroyo was phenomenal in the early innings, not allowing any base-runners until the fourth, when Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant hit a one-out single for the Cubs' first hit of the game. Thereafter, first baseman Anthony Rizzo crushed a home run to right, which knotted the game up at two. The homer marked Rizzo's fourth of the season and his third in as many games. It also extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games.


The Cubs imploded on defense in the sixth, being taken for four runs as a result of Lackey's shaky pitching and two costly errors. Bryant and Rizzo both suffered their second errors of the season, which ultimately cost the Cubs the game. Not long after a Rizzo fielding error to start the inning, Reds right fielder Patrick Kivlehan hit an RBI double, and he was later brought home himself because of an errant throw from Bryant on what should have been an inning-ending grounder. Winning 7-4 at the conclusion of the sixth frame, the Reds never relinquished their lead.

Rizzo's bomb in the fourth proved to be the only grievance suffered by Arroyo on the afternoon, as he gave up only three hits in six innings pitched and struck out seven. Furthermore, the North Siders experienced offensive prosperity in the top of the seventh, indicating that Reds manager Bryan Price pulled Arroyo too soon.

Reliever Blake Wood replaced Arroyo and struggled from the start, allowing Cubs runners to take first and third on consecutive singles to start the seventh. Wood was then pulled himself in favor of Wandy Peralta, who minimized the damage for the Reds. Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward hit a fielder's choice grounder to second that enabled the lead runner, second baseman Ben Zobrist, to score, but that was all that the Cubs could muster in that inning.

The Cubs put forth a valiant comeback attempt in the ninth, though, off of Reds closer Raisel Iglesias. Zobrist led off with a double and was scored thereafter by a single from shortstop Addison Russell, who went 2-4 at the plate. A throwing error by Iglesias then enabled Russell to take third, and a Heyward RBI single scored Russell. Iglesias was able to calm himself just enough to close out the game for the Reds, however, forcing a double-play groundout and a flyout in consecutive at-bats to provide the Reds with the 7-5 win.

The Cubs will now turn their attention to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who just recently completed a sweep of the North Siders. Part of a six-game road trip for Chicago, the National League Central series begins tomorrow night at PNC Park.

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Tags: John Lackey, Miguel Montero, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell
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