Cubs brush off loss to Reds
CINCINNATI — The Thursday night loss was a tough one to swallow for the Chicago Cubs, but they maintained the usual positive spin.
“We’re the team in first place,” Chicago starter Jake Arrieta said. “We won five in a row, lost a tough one tonight. We go into Philly still feeling pretty good about where we’re at.”
The Cubs led by a run through seven innings, but Jose Peraza drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a pinch-hit, bases-loaded double in the eighth, lifting the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-2 victory at Great American Ball Park.
The Reds avoided a sweep in the three-game series.
With two outs in the eighth and Pedro Strop (3-4) on the mound for the Cubs, Eugenio Suarez was intentionally walked to load the bases. Peraza crushed a ball to center that eluded Ian Happ and bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double, driving in two runs to put Cincinnati ahead.
“He’s a really good pitcher with a good fastball,” Peraza said of Strop. “I worked in the cage getting ready for an at-bat. Just trying to see the ball and get a good swing.”
Rather than double-switch for a more adept center fielder in Albert Almora Jr., Cubs manager Joe Maddon chose to keep Happ in center. Replays indicated that Peraza’s drive would have been a tough catch for anyone.
“It would have been a tremendous play,” Maddon said. “Two outs and nobody on, and (Strop is) throwing the ball great. That was the last thing we saw coming.”
Suarez later scored on Strop’s wild pitch to give the Reds a two-run cushion.
Raisel Iglesias blanked the Cubs in the ninth for his 24th save.
Michael Lorenzen (8-2) struck out three in a scoreless top of the eighth to earn the victory. Lorenzen was hit hard in two of his previous three outings.
“Good to see him back out there being the vintage Lorenzen,” Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Happ homered for Chicago (68-58), which had its five-game winning streak snapped. The Cubs lead the second-place Milwaukee Brewers by three games in the National League Central heading into a three-game weekend series against the Phillies.
“We still won the series, we’ve won five of six,” Maddon said. “We did a lot of good things again tonight and they got us at the end.”
With two outs in the sixth, the Reds chose to intentionally walk Happ after Reds starter Sal Romano fell behind three balls and no strikes. However, Javier Baez came through with a sharp single to left, driving home Kris Bryant to put Chicago ahead 2-1.
Cincinnati (54-74) nearly tied the score in the bottom of the sixth when Zack Cozart singled and sprinted toward home on Joey Votto’s double. A perfect relay from Baez nabbed Cozart at home for the first out of the inning.
Romano retired the Cubs in order on only nine pitches in the first inning.
With one out in the second, Happ launched Romano’s first pitch into the right field seats, putting the Cubs ahead 1-0. Happ, a University of Cincinnati product, has 19 home runs in 83 games during his rookie season.
Romano yielded two runs, six hits and three walks while striking out seven in seven innings. The bullpen then helped set up a much-needed victory for Cincinnati.
“He was on the attack,” Price said of Romano. “He was very aggressive in the zone. He got clipped for a solo homer but was really good after that. Had a nice feel for the changeup and breaking ball.”
Arrieta struck out the first four batters he faced and had six through three innings.
There were a couple hard-hit balls in the span. Bryant made a diving catch on Suarez’s line drive to end the second inning. Jesse Winker’s drive to left field in the third pushed Kyle Schwarber back to the wall.
Arrieta’s no-hit bid lasted until the fourth when Votto’s one-out RBI single drove home Zack Cozart, who reached second on Bryant’s error at third base. The hit tied the score 1-1.
Arrieta allowed one run (unearned), four hits and three walks while striking out eight in 5 2/3 innings.
“Jake was really good tonight,” Maddon said. “Stropie was perfect until it all fell apart.”
NOTES: Cubs LHP Jon Lester remains on schedule to throw a bullpen session Friday in Philadelphia. He has been on the disabled list with lat tightness and shoulder fatigue. ... Cubs 3B Kris Bryant returned to the lineup after missing the Wednesday game. He was hit on the left hand by a pitch in the ninth inning Tuesday. On Thursday, Bryant went 1-for-3 with a walk and a double. ... Reds C Stuart Turner is expected to go on the paternity list Friday when his wife is scheduled to be induced. ... Reds 1B Joey Votto has reached base in 28 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the major leagues.