Four homeruns by Chicago Tuesday night led the Cubs to a 9-1 beating of the Cincinnati Reds, pushing the Reds to 2.5 games back of the Central Division lead.
The Reds came in to Tuesday night’s contest with the second spot in the National League Wild Card, but the Cubs took game two of the three game series and continue to play the role of spoiler as they are all to accustomed to doing this late in the season.
Chicago’s bats were able to make noise all evening and continue to keep the pressure on the Cincinnati bullpen throughout the contest. The Cubs racked up a total of 13 hits and were powered behind four homeruns, three of which came from the starting battery of catcher Wellington Castillo(6) and starting pitcher Edwin Jackson(1).
Unfortunately for Cincinnati, whose starting pitching ranks first in the national league with a .236 BAA, starting pitcher Tony Cingrani (7-3, 2.92 ERA) had to leave the game with two outs in the second inning due to back spasms. His final line was 1 2/3 innings, 3 hits, 2 earned runs, one walk, and one strikeout. The duration of the game was handled by the bullpen, which made little difference to Chicago.
Chicago’s starter Edwin Jackson (8-15, 4.76 ERA), who was coming off of six straight losses, picked up his first win since July 31st on Tuesday night. Jackson showed great control over seven innings surrendering only one run on nine hits, while avoiding to walk a single batter and striking out four.
Chicago manager Dale Sveum was reluctant to throw Jackson out there for the eighth inning having thrown 98 pitches, so Sveum ultimately decided to give the ball to the bullpen. Newly recalled reliever Chang-Yong Lim pitched a scoreless eighth, while newly acquired pitcher Justin Grimm finished the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Cincinnati pitching was roughed up Tuesday night, which due to the early exit of starter Tony Cingrani caused the Reds to use five bullpen pitchers. The pitching staff of Reynolds, Christiani, Partch, Duke, and Ondrusek were never able to settle into a groove with the Cubs offense pouncing on every mistake they threw over the plate.
The Cubs offensive showing began in the second inning with a homerun by catcher Wellington Castillo that measured 443 feet, the second longest by a Cub this season, scoring left fielder Junior Lake who doubled and stole third to begin the inning. The following inning the Cubs would strike again with another two-run homer this time by third baseman Donnie Murphy, which scored Darwin Barney who singled earlier in the inning. Junior Lake would follow that homerun by reaching second on a single and error, then scoring on a single by right fielder Darnell McDonald giving the Cubs a 5-0 lead.
More insurance was added in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Darwin Barney scoring Edwin Jackson and then again in the sixth inning on an RBI double from Donnie Murphy, which scored Darwin Barney, increasing the Cubs lead 7-0. The final two Chicago runs came courtesy of two solo homers in the top of the seventh inning from Wellington Castillo, his second of the night, and starting pitcher Edwin Jackson, second of his career.
The Cubs offense was led by Wellington Castillo who went 3-5 with 3 RBIs and improved his OBP to .349. Donnie Murphy contributed nicely with 3 RBIs of his own on two hits. Starlin Castro and Junior Lake, who continues a seven-game hitting streak, each contributed with two hits of their own, while Darin Barney reached base safely three times.
Unfortunately for the Cincinnati offense they were only able to scrap one run together, while compiling ten hits. The lone Reds run came in the bottom of the seventh inning when backup catcher Corky Miller doubled to center field scoring shortstop Zach Cozart, who doubled the at-bat prior. Reds first baseman Joey Votto was the only Red to collect multiple hits as he continues to have yet another career year with a .431 OBP.
The Cubs improve to 62-82 and earned consecutive wins over Cincinnati for the first time since 2011, while also clinching their first series win at Great American Ball Park since Aug. 3-5, 2009. As for Cincinnati, they fall to 82-64 and look to pick up at least one game from the Cubs Wednesday afternoon.
Cincinnati and Chicago will play the final game of this three game series Wednesday at 11:35 A.M. CT at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Cubs will pitch number one starter Jeff Samardzija (8-11, 4.29 ERA), while the Reds will throw starter Mike Leake (12-6, 3.46 ERA) in the series finale.