A three-run sixth inning proved to be the difference in the rubber match of a three-game set between the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night, with the home team’s offense managing just one run in a 4-1 loss at Wrigley Field.
Tied 1-1 in the top of the sixth, Cincinnati (39-38) broke things open against Chicago starter Edwin Jackson (5-8, 5.22 ERA). With a runner on first and nobody out, Reds first baseman Joey Votto sliced a ball down the left field line and after Ryan Sweeney struggled to get a grip on the ball, Todd Frazier raced around to score the first Cincinnati run of the inning. After Devin Mesoraco – who saw his five-game home run streak draw to a close Wednesday – Jay Bruce hit an opposite field line drive that deflected off the glove of Luis Valbuena at third, scoring Votto to make it a 3-1 game.
After Jackson retired Chris Heisey, his night came to a close with one out in the sixth. The right-hander allowed four runs – all earned – on six hits while walking four and striking out just two in 5 1/3 innings of work. Left-hander James Russell entered and Skip Schumaker laid down a squeeze bunt to push the third run of the inning across, making it a 4-1 Cincinnati lead.
Chicago (32-44) dropped its second straight series at home, scoring just once via a Starlin Castro RBI single in the bottom of the fourth against Reds’ right-hander Mat Latos (1-0, 2.89 ERA), who was dominant, scattering five hits over seven innings of work. He struck out five and did not issue a walk.
Castro had a 2-for-4 night, making him the only Chicago player with multiple base hits. As a team, the Cubs did not draw a walk in the game, striking out eight times and going 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
Russell, Carlos Villanueva and Justin Grimm combined to toss 3 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Jackson (given the run allowed by Russell was inherited and charged to Jackson), allowing just one hit and striking out three.