Game One Hundred Fifteen – Cubs 7 Reds 8
WP – Nick Masset (2-5, BS 5) LP – Sean Marshall (5-5, BS 4) Save – Francisco Cordero (20)
The Chicago Cubs seven-game winning streak came to a grinding halt on Sunday afternoon. After being down 6-2 as late as the fifth inning, the Cubs battled back and took a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the seventh. But a misplayed ball in center by Marlon Byrd, coupled with a poor outing by Sean Marshall allowed the Reds to scored a pair in the top of the eighth … and the Cubs could not manage another comeback against the Reds’ bullpen.
Starlin Castro (2-for-5 with a home run and two runs scored) continued his hot streak at the plate and extended his hitting streak to eight games … as well as his run scoring streak. Castro has scored at least one run in the last nine game. Castro led off the third with his fifth big fly of the season … and second in five games. Castro’s blast traveled an estimated at 425-feet.
Blake DeWitt (2-for-3 with a home run, a walk and two RBI) lined his fourth homer of the season into the right field bleachers in sixth that started the comeback and cut the Reds’ lead to 6-4.
Marlon Byrd had a huge day at the plate (3-for-3 with two doubles, a run scored, a walk and two RBI) but his misplayed ball in the eighth opened the door … and the Reds scored two runs off Sean Marshall.
The Cubs took a brief lead after scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh. Tony Campana (1-for-5 with a RBI) drove in a run with a single to right and kept the inning alive with a textbook takeout slide at second base. Aramis Ramirez hit a tailor made double play ball to Todd Frazier at third. Frazier threw to second but Campana took out Paul Janish and the Reds could not turn two. Marlon Byrd tied the game with a ground rule double to the left field corner. The Cubs scored the go ahead run on a wild pitch by Nick Masset.
Both teams scored a run on misplayed balls in shallow centerfield and on wild pitches.
Randy Wells did not allow any first inning runs for only the second time this season (14 starts) but it was three of the other six innings on Sunday that was not that good. Wells allowed runs in three of the seven innings he completed and served up three home runs.
The Reds were extremely aggressive against Wells. There was a lot of first pitch hacking and two of the three longballs hit off Wells came on the first pitch of the at bat. In 14 starts this season, Wells has served up 15 home runs in 77.1 innings.
Randy Wells retired the last eight batters he faced and ended up allowing six runs, all earned, on eight hits (three home runs) with a walk, a wild pitch and three strikeouts. Wells threw 91 pitches, 56 for strikes.
Sean Marshall suffered his fourth blown save of the year and his fifth loss after giving up two runs on three hits with a walk and a strikeout in the eighth (a third of an inning).
The big difference on Sunday afternoon was the Reds defense. Dave Sappelt made his big league debut and took away a couple of hits from Geovany Soto and Starlin Castro. Sappelt made a very smart play by not reaching into the ivy on what ended up as a ground rule double for Marlon Byrd in the seventh.
The Cubs ended a long stretch of games against the National League Central on Sunday. Q’s squad finished with a 10-6 record in 16 games against the Astros (3-0), Brewers (0-3), Cardinals (1-2), Pirates (4-0) and Reds (2-1).
With Sunday’s loss (4-14 on Sundays in 2011), the Cubs slipped back to 49-66 on the season … 17 games under .500.
The Cubs put together nice at bats against Bronson Arroyo in the home half of the first … but went in order.
Wells retired Jay Bruce (first pitch pop out to left) and Todd Frazier (flyout to right) quickly to start the second. Drew Stubbs went with Wells’ first pitch and hit into the bleachers in right center … 1-0 Reds.
Ryan Hanigan followed Stubbs’ opposite field homer with a hard single to left on the first pitch. Wells lost command at that point and walked Paul Janish on four pitches. Arroyo put together the Reds best at bat over the first two innings. Arroyo fouled out to Carlos Pena (near homeplate) on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
After a seven-pitch first inning, it took Wells 18 to get through the second (25 total, 13 for strikes).
Marlon Byrd singled to left with one out in the second. Blake DeWitt then blooped a single into center on a 3-2 pitch. Soto popped out to right but Tyler Colvin worked a walk to load the bases with two outs. Randy Wells struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Reds did nothing against Wells in the third (10 pitches, seven for strikes).
Starlin Castro led off the third with a monster shot over the centerfield wall. Castro hit a 1-1 offering from Arroyo about 425-feet and tied the game at one … homer number five on the season and second in five games.
Tony Campana grounded out to short on a bang-bang play at first. Ramirez hit a towering fly into left that stayed in the park. The Reds left fielder, Dave Sappelt, caught the ball with his back very close to the Under Armour door in left center.
Carlos Pena put together a very good at bat that resulted in a two-out walk. Marlon Byrd then popped a 2-2 pitch into left center. Drew Stubbs lost the routine fly in the sun. Pena scored all the way from first on what was ruled a double for Marlon Byrd. DeWitt grounded out to first to end the inning.
Randy Wells started falling apart in the fourth gave those two runs right back … and then some.
Jay Bruce led off and smoked a 2-0 pitch into left center. Todd Frazier jumped on Wells’ first pitch and the ball left the park in a hurry … just like that the Cubs were down 3-2.
Drew Stubbs followed with a hard single into left (0-1 pitch). Stubbs took off for second on a 1-0 offering to Hanigan … and made it easily. Hanigan ended up grounding out to Castro on a ball ticketed for center. Castro made an excellent play to get to the ball and throw out Hanigan. Stubbs advanced to third on the play.
Wells uncorked a wild pitch on the first offering to Paul Janish … Stubbs scored easily, 4-2 Reds. Janish grounded out to short and Arroyo flied out to deep left on a 3-1 pitch to end the inning … after four, Wells’ pitch count stood at 55, 31 for strikes.
The Cubs did nothing against Arroyo in the fourth … thanks to two excellent defensive plays, one by Sappelt in left and the other by Janish at second.
The Reds appeared to put the game way in the fifth. Dave Sappelt singled to left to start the inning … his first big league hit. Edgar Renteria got just enough of a 1-0 offering to put the ball in the basket … the third homer of the day for the Reds gave them a commanding 6-2 lead.
Joey Votto singled to left, the Reds’ eighth hit of the game. After Jay Bruce struck out swinging, Frazier hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. Wells’ pitch count was a respectable 71 (43 for strikes) but he was anything but effective at that point.
Arroyo retired the Cubs in order, quickly, in the fifth … and the Reds did nothing against Wells in the top of the sixth.
Marlon Byrd worked a one-out walk in the sixth and came around to score on Blake DeWitt’s fourth dinger of the season … 6-4 Reds. Arroyo struck out Soto and retired Colvin on a groundout to second to end the inning.
Randy Wells ended his afternoon by retiring the Reds in order in the seventh.
Reed Johnson hit for Wells to start the seventh. Logan Ondrusek replaced Arroyo and plunked Johnson with his first pitch.
Starlin Castro blooped a 0-1 pitch into right. Johnson advanced to third and scored on Tony Campana’s single to right … 6-5 Reds.
With runners on first and second with no outs, Aramis Ramirez hit a chopper to third. Frazier backed up, fielded the ball and threw to second. Tony Campana made a hard, legal slide into second, and took out Paul Janish. Ramirez was safe at first and Campana jogged off the field to a standing ovation.
Dusty Baker went to his pen and brought in lefty Bill Bray to face Carlos Pena.
Pena looked at strike three on a 2-2 pitch and Dusty went back to his pen. Nick Masset came into face Byrd with runners on first and third with two outs.
Marlon Byrd ripped a 3-1 pitch down the left field line. Castro scored and tied the game at six but the ball stuck in the vines. The rookie left fielder, Dave Sappelt, threw up his hands and Ramirez had to go back to third on the ground rule double.
Blake DeWitt was intentionally walked to load the bases with two outs.
Nick Masset uncorked a wild pitch on the first offering to Geovany Soto. Ramirez scampered in and scored the go ahead run. Soto struck out swinging to end the inning.
After being down 6-2 in the fifth, the Cubs took a 7-6 lead into the eighth … but it did not last long.
Joey Votto received a gift double when he blooped a 1-0 pitch into shallow center. Marlon Byrd overran the ball and slipped when he tried to go back and catch it. Sean Marshall struck out Jay Bruce then hung a curve on a 2-2 pitch to Todd Frazier. The Reds’ third baseman reached out and pulled the ball into the left field corner. Votto scored and tied the game at seven.
Marshall walked Drew Stubbs to put runners on first and second with one out. Ryan Hanigan ripped a 2-2 pitch into right. Frazier rounded third and slid in safe with the go ahead run … and the Reds took the lead 8-7.
Jeff Samardzija replaced Marshall and walked Paul Janish to load the bases (3-2 pitch). Yonder Alonso hit for Masset and grounded into a 5-2-3 double play to end the inning.
The Cubs did nothing against Aroldis Chapman in the eighth … the Reds’ reliever struck out the side (Baker, Barney and Castro).
Samardzija stayed in and pitched the ninth. Samardzija struck out the side (Sappelt, Renteria and Votto) to keep it a one-run game.
The Cubs did nothing against Francisco Cordero in the ninth … game and winning streak over.
To the Cubs’ credit, they never quit playing on Sunday. But it was two of the Cubs biggest problems that cost them another ballgame … starting pitching and defense.
The Cubs open a three-game series (all night games) on Monday against the Washington Nationals. Matt Garza against Chien-Ming Wang in game one.