CINCINNATI -- Kris Bryant delivered an RBI single against a drawn-in infield to break a 2-2 tie in the top of the 15th before Javier Baez blasted a grand slam off Reds reliever J.J. Hoover as the Cubs outlasted Cincinnati, 7-2, Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park.
"The grand slam obviously was huge just to really build that cushion to permit us to more comfortably go into that last inning, because I had no idea what was going on," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, Josh Smith and Blake Wood combined for eight innings of shutout relief pitching for the Reds before Hoover (1-2) took over in the 15th. The grand slam off the bat of Baez was the sixth allowed by Hoover in his career, a Reds franchise record.
Cubs starter Jon Lester allowed just one run on three hits over 7 2/3 innings and drove in a run with a single in the fifth inning, but he ended up with a no-decision after the Reds rallied to tie the game in the ninth inning off of closer Hector Rondon on a two-out single by Eugenio Suarez. Brandon Phillips, who was celebrating his 35th birthday, dove around the tag of catcher David Ross to beat the throw of left fielder Matt Szczur.
Ben Zobrist started the game just as the Cubs left Monday night's affair, with a home run. It was his 10th homer and came one night after Chicago hit five long balls in an 11-8 win over the Reds. This was not going to be a night for the offenses, however. Reds starter John Lamb allowed just two runs on six hits while striking out seven in six innings of work before turning things over to the bullpen.
Lester gave up a two-out single to Phillips in the first inning, then didn't give up another hit until Billy Hamilton homered with one out in the eighth to cut Chicago's 2-0 lead in half. Hamilton now has three homers on the season, two of them coming off of Lester. Lester retired 19 of 21 batters after Phillips' single, including 14 in a row prior to Hamilton's home run.
"It was fastball in," said Hamilton of the pitch he hit for his home run. "Tonight, [Lester] wasn't overpowering, but he was hitting his spots. Every time he threw the ball, he had a plan for it. We battled but we just ended up on the bad side of the situation."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rondon struggles: While Rondon has been a reliable closer for the Cubs all year, that was not the case Tuesday. Rondon hurt himself by hitting Phillips and then left a fastball over the plate to Jay Bruce, who singled, and then again to Suarez.
"Rondon came in, the hit batter was the difference," Maddon said. "When we hit Phillips, that was the difference in that inning. That set up the inning for them … 0-2 hit batters in the ninth normally come back to bite you."
What could've been: The Reds had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the 13th when Joey Votto came to the plate with runners on first and second and just one out. Ivan De Jesus Jr. and Zack Cozart had singled off of Trevor Cahill, forcing Maddon to bring in Joel Peralta to face Votto. Votto got a pitch to his liking and hit a line drive that appeared destined for right field. Instead of a potential game-winner for the Reds, the play turned into a game-saver for the Cubs as Zobrist made a leaping snare of the ball. He threw to Baez covering the bag at second base to easily double up De Jesus Jr. and end the inning.
Lester gives 7 2/3 solid: Lester was dominant from the second inning until he ran into trouble in the eighth. After the first inning, Lester recorded more hits at the plate (1) than he gave up on the mound (0) until Hamilton's homer and Jose Peraza's single chased him from the game. The start continues an impressive June for the Cubs' lefty. Posting a 1.41 ERA, Lester has gone at least seven innings in five of his six June starts.
Shutdown performance: The Reds' bullpen has been much maligned this season, but it produced a performance worthy of high praise until the 15th inning. The quartet of Iglesias, Cingrani, Smith and Wood didn't allow a hit while tossing eight shutout innings in relief of Lamb. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Reds have never had more than eight consecutive hitless innings of relief in the same game since 1900. More >
"You don't get to see that very often. Left, pitching, back to left, same guy coming back pitching. We used a pitcher for the last three innings, I think, three or four innings in left field, you don't get to see that a whole lot. That just made it fun and interesting. The important thing is we pulled off the victory." -- Travis Wood, on his outfield escapades
"I think everyone here has an understanding of where we're trying to go, so losing under all circumstances is miserable. To be 20 games under .500, under the worst-case scenario is unthinkable. But guys continue to play hard, and we start to show some improvements. The pitching today took a huge step forward." -- Reds manager Bryan Price, on taking positives out of this latest loss
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
In the first six games of their current seven-game homestand, the Reds have been hurt by the hitting of opposing starting pitchers. Lester went 1-for-3 with an RBI Tuesday to give opposing starters seven hits and a walk in 14 plate appearances in the six games. The Reds' pitchers have allowed two home runs and four RBIs to those opposing starters.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the bottom of the second inning, Suarez saw a low curveball that broke down-and-in to the right-hander. Suarez walked toward first base, indicating the ball hit his foot, but home-plate umpire Mike Winters ruled that the ball had not hit Suarez. The Reds challenged, and the call on the field was overturned, awarding Suarez first base.
WHAT'S NEXT Cubs: The Cubs go for the sweep in an 11:35 a.m. CT start against the Reds on Wednesday at Great American Ball Park. Kyle Hendricks (5-6, 2.76 ERA) will take the ball for Chicago with a 2.11 ERA over his last six starts. In his last start, Hendricks was victimized by his own defense, allowing four runs but none of them were earned over a season-low tying five innings.
Reds:Cody Reed gets his third start of the season, and his second at home, as the Reds and Cubs close out their three-game set with a 12:35 p.m. ET start. Reed struggled the last time out, allowing five runs in five innings against San Diego in what ultimately turned out to be a 13-4 Padres win.