Ervin’s big day helps Reds outslug Cubs
CHICAGO — The Cincinnati Reds’ 2018 tryout tour may have uncovered a potential star in Phillip Ervin.
Ervin drove in four runs, including a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning, as the Cincinnati Reds blew an early nine-run lead and then outlasted the Chicago Cubs 13-10 on Thursday afternoon.
Ervin, who collected his first hit and home run on Wednesday, was 3-for-4 in his first start. He homered off Justin Grimm (1-2) to give the Reds an 11-9 lead after they held a 9-0 advantage following the second inning.
“A lot times that’s a hard game to hold onto because you’ve lost so much momentum and in this particular case they just steamroll you,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “In this case we were able to hold the line a little bit and Ervin hits the big homer to make it 11-9.”
The last-place Reds (51-71) split the four-game series while the Cubs (63-57) suffered their second loss in three games.
The Cubs were hopeful an examination of starter Jon Lester would not reveal any serious issues after the left-hander gave up nine runs in a disastrous second inning and departed with a strained lat.
“The thing that I saw today was that the velocity was down on everything today a little bit,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. “The pitches were getting in, but they were finishing.”
Joey Votto also homered for the Reds on a windswept day.
Ian Happ homered twice for the Cubs, including the second of three straight homers in the fourth. Kris Bryant hit his 23rd homer to start the fourth, Alex Avila preceded Happ’s second homer with a two-run homer and Javier Baez homered on the next pitch after Happ’s second homer.
Kyle Schwarber also homered for the Cubs.
Both starters were long gone when the game was decided.
Lester allowed nine runs (seven earned) in 1 2/3 innings.
Reds right-hander Scott Feldman allowed Chicago’s first five homers and six runs in 3 2/3 innings.
“I was just trying to mix in a lot of junk today and it worked for three innings,” Feldman said. “The fourth inning they caught on to what I was doing.”
Drew Storen (4-2) pitched a scoreless sixth. Raisel Iglesias allowed a one-out single to Anthony Rizzo and threw a wild pitch but struck out Avila to end the slugfest and notch his 22nd save.
The Reds sent 13 to the plate in a nine-run second. They opened the inning with four straight hits, including Ervin’s RBI single that made it 2-0.
Votto hit his 32nd homer of the season to push the lead to 7-0. Eugenio Suarez’s double made it 8-0 and chased Lester.
Ervin’s double off Mike Montgomery made it 9-0. The inning ended when Scooter Gennett was tagged out by Avila after scrambling back to touch the plate.
“It was the first time I’ve ever warmed up on the field like that,” Montgomery said. “It can definitely be hard to get it locked in early. But after we threw that guy (Gennett) out at the plate that gave me a chance to regroup and then we just started hitting.”
Happ began Chicago’s comeback in the second with his first homer.
Bryant slammed a 1-0 pitch down the left field line with none out in the fourth before Avila, Happ and Baez homered in a span of four pitches.
The back-to-back-to-back homers were the first for the Cubs since 2004 and just the 11th in franchise history. They also tied a team record with four home runs in an inning.
The Cubs tied it in the fifth against Michael Lorenzen.
Schwarber homered on the first pitch of the inning, Rizzo hit an RBI double and scored the tying run on Avila’s double.
A sacrifice fly by Happ made it 11-10 but Suarez and Jose Peraza drove in the final two runs for the Reds.
NOTES: Longtime Reds front office executive Gene Bennett died Wednesday at age 89. He signed as a player in 1952 and began scouting in 1958 with notable signings that included Don Gullett, Barry Larkin, Chris Sabo and five-time World Series champion Paul O’Neill. ... The Reds play their first games at Atlanta’s new SunTrust Park in this weekend’s three-game series. The Cubs host the Toronto Blue Jays for the third time and first time since 2005. ... 1B Anthony Rizzo’s grand slam homer on Wednesday was just the third ever by a Cubs cleanup hitter in the first inning with none out, joining Bob O’Farrell (1923) and Hank Lieber (1939).