A Long Time Coming – Cubs 6, Reds 5

Game Sixty-Four – Cubs 6, Reds 5 – 14 innings

WP – Hector Rondon (1-0) LP – Jonathan Broxton (2-2) Save – None

wflag-pubIt took five hours, seven minutes and 14 innings but the Cubs finally beat the Reds at Wrigley Field. Hector Rondon picked up his first big league victory after Julio Borbon pinch-hit for him in the 14th inning and drove in Starlin Castro (3-for-7 with a double, two runs scored and a stolen base) with a two-out single to center off Jonathan Broxton.

To the Cubs credit they kept battling on Thursday and tied the game in the eighth on a Darwin Barney (2-for-6 with a RBI) two out single and the game remained knotted at five until the 14th inning.

The bullpen had a very good afternoon in relief of Jeff Samardzija. The pen tossed eight shutout innings and did not allow a baserunner past first base until the 14th inning. Blake Parker and Hector Rondon each pitched two scoreless inning while Carlos Villanueva, James Russell, Kevin Gregg and Carlos Marmol each completed a scoreless inning of work. As a staff, the Cubs struck out a season-high 19 batters and walked only five with not a single free pass after the seventh inning.

Jeff Samardzija simply did not have it on Thursday. Samardzija surrendered a season-high 10 hits while tying a season-high in earned runs allowed. Every time the offense put runs on the board and tried to gain a little momentum, Samardzija gave it right back in the next half inning. Samardzija struggled with his fastball command again and the Reds seemed to square up his breaking stuff. Samardzija allowed five runs on 10 hits with four walks and six strikeouts in six innings. Samardzija threw 116 pitches, 71 for strikes.

The offense had a surprisingly good day against Mat Latos. The Cubs put up four runs on eight hits against Latos in six innings with a walk and only four strikeouts. Nate Schierholtz (2-for-5 with two triples, two walks and three runs scored) had an excellent afternoon. Schierholtz recorded the first two-triple game of his career and scored half of the Cubs runs. Welington Castillo (3-for-5 with a RBI and a HBP) reached base four times and drove in a run while Alfonso Soriano (2-for-7 with a RBI) collected two hits, committed one bad baserunning gaffe and drove in the Cubs’ first run of the game.

Starlin Castro put together his first three-hit game in a long time (April 14) and scored both the first run of the game and the last. Castro stole two bases and really drove the ball on Thursday. Castro thought he hit a game winning homer in the ninth but ended up with a double and caught heat for not hustling out of the box. Castro also committed two errors in the field, his first charged errors in 18 games, which did not help his cause. Castro seemed more at ease hitting toward the top of the lineup and the results prove it.

David DeJesus hit a solo homer off Latos in the fifth and Luis Valbuena (1-for-6 with a RBI) drove in Schierholtz with the Cubs’ fourth run in the sixth inning.

The Cubs pounded out 15 hits, walked five times, struck out 11 times and finished the game 4-for-19 with RISP and left 13 men on base.

Thursday’s game was the longest win for the Cubs, in terms of innings played, at Wrigley Field since Sammy Sosa hit a walk-off homer in the 15th inning to beat Jeff Fassero and the Cardinals in game one of a doubleheader nearly 10 years ago (September 2, 2003).

The Cubs salvaged the series finale with the Reds with their second walk-off victory over Cincinnati in extra innings this season and avoided being swept in a four-game series by the Redlegs at Wrigley since 1968. The Cubs finished the homestand with a 2-5 record and improved to 26-38 on the season.

After Samardzija tossed a scoreless first inning, Starlin Castro reached on a one out single (2-2 pitch) in the bottom of the first. Castro then took off and swiped second on a 2-2 pitch to Rizzo before advancing to third when ball four to Rizzo got past Devin Mesoraco. Alfonso Soriano blooped a single into shallow center. Castro scored and the Cubs took a 1-0 lead. Schierholtz hit a deep fly to right that the wind knocked down. Rizzo advanced to third with two down. With runners on first and third, Valbuena flied out to left center for the third out.

The Cubs 1-0 lead quickly evaporated in the second inning … and it could have been worse. Bruce singled to left center (2-1 pitch) to start the inning. Todd Frazier followed with a single to left. With runners on first and second with no outs, Xavier Paul smoked a liner toward first, Rizzo caught and stepped on the bag … a three unassisted double play. With Bruce at second, Mesoraco singled to left center. Bruce scored and tied the game at one. Latos followed with a single and Shin-Soo Choo drove in Mesoraco with a single to left … the fifth hit of the inning. Cozart popped out to right to end the inning. Samardzija gave up two runs on five hits and needed 36 pitches, 24 for strikes, to complete two innings of work.

The game remained 2-1 Reds until the fourth inning. Both Samardzija and Latos settled in somewhat but it was clear early on that the bullpens would play a role on Thursday afternoon.

Nate Schierholtz led off the fourth with a triple to right. The ball hit off the telephone box in the Reds’ bullpen and bounced back in the field of play. Schierholtz ended up at third with his first three-bagger of the year. Luis Valbuena lined out to first but Welington Castillo singled to center and plated Schierholtz with the Cubs second run. Barney rapped into a 4-6-3 inning ending double play.

At the end of four, the game was tied at two.

The Reds jumped on Samardzija again in the fifth. Choo walked to start the inning and went to second on a single to left by Zack Cozart. Joey Votto gave the Reds a 3-2 lead with a single to center. Cozart advanced to third with no outs. Brandon Phillips followed with a single to center that plated Cozart with the Reds’ fourth run. Samardzija struck out Bruce swinging for the first out before he walked Frazier to load the bags. Samardzija struck out Paul and retired Mesoraco on a grounder to short to end the inning. Samardzija needed 96 pitches, 59 for strikes, to complete five innings.

The Cubs cut the Reds’ lead to 4-3 in the fifth. David DeJesus hit his sixth longball of the season, a solo shot to right. Latos retired Castro and Rizzo to end the inning … and at the end of five, the Reds had a 4-3 lead.

But the Reds got the run right back in the sixth. Choo worked a one-out walk and advanced to third on a Cozart single to right. Joey Votto then blooped the first pitch into center. The wind kept pushing the ball back toward the infield. DeJesus tried to make a running catch but the ball hit off his glove. Soriano picked it up and threw to second to get the out on Cozart but Choo scored and the Reds took a 5-3 lead. Phillips hit a routine grounder to Castro that he bobbled then rushed his throw to first. Phillips was not hustling down the line, Castro had plenty of time. Jay Bruce flied out to left center on the first pitch to end the inning.

The Cubs cut the Reds lead in half in the bottom of the sixth. Nate Schierholtz tripled to right, his second of the game, with one out. Bruce lost the ball of the sun and Schierholtz ended up a third with one down. Valbuena grounded out to first, Schierholtz scored. Welington Castillo followed with a broken bat bloop single into right center before Barney grounded out to short to end the inning.

At the end of six complete, the Reds had a 5-4 lead and it stayed that way until the bottom of the eighth.

Sam LeCure started the eighth for Dusty Baker and not Jonathan Broxton. Alfonso Soriano led off the inning with a single to left center. Soriano paused around first before trying for two and Paul threw him out at second. Down by a run in the eighth and Soriano was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. Nate Schierholtz followed and worked a one-out walk. Luis Valbuena singled to right (0-2 pitch) but Shin-Soo Shoo made a diving catch in left center to take away a hit and a RBI from Welington Castillo for the second out. With runners on first and second, Darwin Barney blooped a 1-1 pitch into right, Schierholtz scored and tied the game at five. Dioner Navarro hit for Carlos Villanueva and grounded out to second to end the inning.

At the end of eight it was all tied up a five a piece.

The Cubs had a chance to win it in the ninth after Castro reached on a one out double off J.J. Hoover. Hoover intentionally walked Rizzo then struck out Soriano swinging and retired Schierholtz on a soft liner to short to end the inning.

Neither team could push across a run until the 14th inning.

After Hector Rondon worked around Castro’s second error of the game and a first and third situation with two down without allowing the Reds to score, Starlin Castro led off the 14th with a single to center. Rizzo worked a full count but struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch. Castro was running with the full count offering and ended up in scoring position. Soriano grounded out to first, Castro advanced to third and the Reds intentionally walked Schierholtz with the pitcher’s spot due up.

Julio Borbon, the last position player on Sveum’s bench, hit for Rondon and lashed a 1-0 pitch into left. Castro scored, game over and Joey Votto had to listen to his favorite song for the first time in long time at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs hit the road for seven games starting on Friday. The Cubs open a three-game series against the Mets with Edwin Jackson facing Shaun Marcum in game one.

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Quote of the Day

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