Game One Hundred Fifty-Two – Cubs 9, Reds 2
WP – John Lackey (10-8) LP – Robert Stephenson (2-2) Save – None
What started out as a grind on Wednesday night ended as a comfortable win for the Cubs behind John Lackey. The Cubs pounded out 15 hits and scored in six of their eight at-bats. Four of the Cubs nine runs scored on two-out hits from Miguel Montero and Javier Baez. Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant homered and the Cubs completed the three-game sweep over the Reds at the old ballyard.
John Lackey picked up his 10th win of the season after allowing two runs in seven innings. Lackey had one bad inning. Lackey gave up both runs in the second inning and if not for Chris Coghlan the game might have turned out differently. Coghlan threw out Tucker Barnhart at the plate to end the second inning. Barnhart tried to score from second base on a single to left from Jose Peraza. Instead of the Reds taking the lead on what looked to be a two-run single, the inning was over and the Cubs went to work against Reds’ pitching.
John Lackey did not allow a hit after a third inning double by Joey Votto. Lackey retired the last 14 batters he faced before turning the game over to the bullpen with a rather comfortable lead. Lackey was charged with two runs on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts. Lackey made 87 pitches, 57 for strikes, in seven innings.
Joe Maddon used his relievers in situations that could come up in the postseason. Hector Rondon retired two of the three batters he faced in the eighth. After replay overturned a 5-4-3 inning ending double play, Maddon went to his bullpen for Mike Montgomery with Joey Votto due up. Montgomery retired Votto on a grounder to short to end the inning. Montgomery gave up a leadoff single to Adam Duvall in the ninth. Montgomery retired Phillips on a fly to right and Scott Schebler on a 4-6 fielder’s choice. With one on and two down, Maddon brought in Joe Smith and Steve Selsky struck out swinging to end the game.
The Cubs offense had a big night. Each of the Cubs starters had a least one hit, and three (Zobrist, Montero, Baez) and three-hit games. The Cubs scored nine runs on 15 hits and five walks.
Ben Zobrist (3-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored and a RBI) drove in the first run on a single to center that plated Dexter Fowler (2-for-4 with a home run, a HBP and three runs scored). Javier Baez (3-for-5 with a RBI) picked up a RBI with an infield single.
Miguel Montero (3-for-5 with a runs scored and three RBI) had three hits and drove in three runs.
Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant (1-for-5 with a home run and two RBI) hit tape measure home runs. Fowler a solo shot leading off the fourth and Bryant a two-run blast in the seventh.
John Lackey worked around a leadoff single by Jose Peraza and a two-base throwing error by Ben Zobrist in the first inning without allowing any runs.
The Cubs offense went to work right away against Robert Stephenson. The Cubs relentless offense made a return appearance Wednesday night and they forced the rookie to work. Stephenson made 34 pitches in the first inning. And the Cubs put a couple of runs on the board.
Dexter Fowler was hit by a pitch and he moved up to second base on a wild pitch with Anthony Rizzo at the plate. Rizzo reached on an infield single to third, a dribbler to the Reds’ third baseman.
Ben Zobrist put the Cubs on the board with a single to left (1-2 pitch). Fowler scored on scary headfirst slide, 1-0 Cubs. Fowler hit Barnhart’s shin guards awkwardly as he slid in. With runners on first and second with one out, Heyward hit a deep fly to center that ended up as an out. On Tuesday night that ball would have been long gone.
Javier Baez rolled a 3-2 pitch toward third with runners on the corners and two outs. Baez hustled down the line. Baez beat the throw. Rizzo scored, 2-0 Cubs. The umpires took another look. The call on the field was upheld and Montero grounded out to second for the third out.
After one it was 2-0 Cubs.
The Reds tied the game in the second inning. Scott Schebler reached on a single to center on a ball that was misplayed by Ben Zobrist. The ball took a weird bounce and went under his glove into center. Steve Selsky followed with a double to right center. Schebler scored, 2-1 Cubs. Lackey walked Tucker Barnhart. Robert Stephenson dropped down a sac bunt that put runners on second and third with two outs.
Jose Peraza singled to left past Bryant. Selsky scored and tied the game. Chris Coghlan threw a strike to the plate. Montero applied the tag on Barnhart to end the inning. Coghlan’s defensive play changed the game.
The Cubs managed a Chris Coghlan leadoff single in the second inning. But that was all. The Cubs and Reds were tied at two after two.
The Cubs took the lead in the third inning. Lackey pitched around a one-out ground rule double to left by Joey Votto in the top of the inning. Ben Zobrist worked a one-out walk in the third and moved to second on a two-out single to center by Javier Baez (1-2 pitch).
Miguel Montero gave the Cubs the lead with a single to left on a 3-2 pitch. Zobrist scored, 3-2 Cubs. Montero went to second when Adam Duvall’s throw to the plate sailed and hit the netting. Coghlan was intentionally walked to load the bases. Lackey drove the first pitch to deep right center but Schebler hauled it in to end the inning.
The Cubs led 3-2 after three complete.
John Lackey went into cruise control at that point. Lackey retired the last 14 batters he faced while his teammates put runs on the board in each of the next four innings.
Dexter Fowler launched a solo homer to the bleachers in right to start the fourth inning. Fowler’s blast gave the Cubs a 4-2 lead. The Cubs chased Robert Stephenson from the game when Zobrist lined a two-out single to left. Jason Heyward singled to center off Matt Magill but Baez popped out to second to end the inning.
Miguel Montero started the fifth with a single to center off Michael Lorenzen. Coghlan walked. After Lackey struck out, Fowler smoked a one-hopper toward first. Votto made an excellent backhanded stop and threw out Coghlan at second.
With Bryant at the plate, Fowler broke for second. Tucker Barnhart reacted and tried to get Lorenzen’s attention. When he did, Lorenzen balked. Montero trotted in from third with the Cubs’ fifth run. Bryant popped out to short to end the inning.
Zobrist got the offense going again in the sixth. Zobrist singled to center with one out. Heyward walked. Baez rolled out to short. Zobrist and Heyward moved up to second and third on Baez’s productive out.
Miguel Montero ripped a 1-2 pitch into center. Zobrist and Heyward scored, 7-2 Cubs. Bryan Price replaced Lorenzen with Blake Wood and Coghlan struck out swinging to end the inning.
Kris Bryant capped the Cubs scoring with a mammoth two-run homer to left with Fowler on board. Bryant launched a 2-1 pitch from Ross Ohlendorf for his 38th home run of the season.
The Reds managed one hit off Hector Rondon, Mike Montgomery and Joe Smith over the last two innings.
With Wednesday’s win, the Cubs improved to 97-55 … a season-high 42 games over .500.
Thursday is the Cubs last scheduled off day of the regular season. The Cubs welcome the Cardinals to Wrigley on Friday afternoon (1:20pm CDT). Jake Arrieta takes on Mike Leake in the opener of the three-game weekend series.