Reds rally on Barnhart HR, win first set over Cubs
By Carrie Muskat and Mark Sheldon
CHICAGO -- The Cubs clubbed their 32nd home run off Reds pitchers this season when All-Star Ben Zobrist connected in the fifth inning on Wednesday. But Zack Cozart got things started with a leadoff homer in the first and Tucker Barnhart belted a key three-run blast in the seventh to lead Cincinnati to a 5-3 win over Chicago at Wrigley Field. It was the Reds' first series win over the rivals this season and the first time since Aug. 27-28, 2014, that they won back-to-back games over the Cubs.
Anthony DeSclafani, making his sixth start, picked up the win, scattering eight hits over six innings, and the Reds took the series, 2-1. The Cubs lead the season series, 10-3.
"These guys have beat us up pretty good this year. Truth be told, they've had our number, not just beating us, but beating us with emphasis," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We should be more competitive against everybody, I think, once we get our pitching into good shape. I think we're closer. Nobody should be beating up a Major League team the way they've beaten us this year. I think this is a good sign to our guys that if we play our game of baseball and put the ball in play and defend and pitchers throw strikes, you can compete."
All-Stars Addison Russell and Zobrist each drove in a run for the Cubs, who have lost 12 of their last 17 games.
"The effort is good," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of his players. "They beat us with a three-run homer."
Both teams were wearing throwback uniforms from 1916 to celebrate the Cubs' first game at Wrigley Field -- which was then known as Weeghman Park -- on April 20, 1916, against the Reds. The Cubs won that game, 7-6, in 11 innings despite a home run by Cincinnati's Johnny Beall.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Cozart equals 1-0: For the eighth time in his career, and the fourth this season, Cozart hit a leadoff home run after he took Adam Warren's 3-2 pitch deep to left-center field in the top of the first inning. Statcast™ estimated that the drive -- during a 10-pitch at-bat -- traveled 431 feet with an exit velocity of 105 mph. It was also Cozart's third straight game with a homer, and it was his 14th for the season, leaving him one away from the career high of 15 he set in 2012.
Welcome back:Tommy La Stella, activated from the disabled list on Wednesday, blooped a single to right to lead off the Cubs' second, and one out later, he showed his right hamstring was OK when he scored on Russell's double, the shortstop's seventh RBIs in his last three games. Miguel Montero followed with an RBI single, his first at Wrigley since June 2, to put Chicago ahead, 2-1.
Barnhart burning up: Barnhart's homer off Trevor Cahill in the seventh not only put Cincinnati back ahead, but continued his personal hot stretch. In 14 games since June 18, the switch-hitting catcher is batting .348 (16-for-46) with eight RBIs. On the in-progress road trip, he is 8-for-20. With runners on second and third in the seventh, Barnhart was simply trying for a sacrifice fly -- especially after he struck out in a similar situation in the second inning.
"I was battling as bad as I have in a while, just trying to get my foot down and kind of flick something to the outfield," Barnhart said. "I got a fastball out over the plate. It was probably the last pitch I thought would come there. I kind of reacted to it, trying to get something to the outfield. I wasn't sitting on a certain pitch, but tried to make contact on something."
Start me up: Rainouts and days off had given the Cubs' starting staff enough of a breather so the team didn't need extra help. But a stretch of 24 straight games prior to the All-Star break prompted the Cubs to insert Warren into the rotation as the sixth man and have him make a spot start Wednesday. Warren battled Cozart in a 10-pitch at-bat that ended with a leadoff home run. The right-hander did not get a decision, giving up one run over five innings. While he was the sixth starting pitcher used by the Cubs this season, the Reds have tapped 12 different starters, most in the Major Leagues.
"It's a rough way to start," Warren said of Cozart's at-bat. "He put together a great at-bat. I was pounding the zone, trying to set the tone early. I pretty much tried everything. I made a mistake and he punished me."
Neither Warren nor the Cubs know if he'll make another start after the break, but he felt he gave them something to think about.
"I was happy I got back to who I was, working both sides of the plate with all my pitches," Warren said.
"You don't execute a pitch and a guy hits a three-run homer and that's that. I can't connect a bunch of negative thoughts. It happened. I think it is a snapshot [of the season] and I'm not overly concerned." -- Maddon, on the Cubs' recent struggles
"Obviously it changed everything. It put us up in the lead, and then we were able to scratch another run across the board. That's huge. It changed the momentum and kind of gets the guys up in the dugout and brings a little life. That was obviously the changing point of the game for sure. I was trying to keep it as close as possible. If you get guys on base, one swing can change the game like that. Just fighting not to give up every run and try to keep the game as close as possible. Tucker called a great game and obviously was able to turn it around as well." -- DeSclafani, on Barnhart's homer and the victory
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Reds stole four bases against the Cubs, who have given up 69 steals this season, second most in baseball behind the Mets.
REPLAY REVIEW Jay Bruce was called out trying to steal second base in the ninth inning, and after a review, umpires said the call stands.
WHAT'S NEXT Reds: Following an off-day on Thursday, the Reds will wrap up the road trip and the first half with a three-game series vs. the Marlins. Dan Straily will take the mound for the 7:10 p.m. ET opener at Marlins Park. Cincinnati has won 13 of its last 21 games vs. Miami over the past three seasons.
Cubs: The Cubs will play host to the Braves on Thursday in a makeup game. Jason Hammel gets the start, his 17th and last before the All-Star break. In his last start, he served up a career-high five home runs and 10 earned runs over four innings. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT at Wrigley Field.