Apr 22, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Luis Valbuena watches his two-run home run he hit off Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Alfredo Simon (not pictured) during the 13th inning at Great American Ball Park. The Reds won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
After a weekend full of short comings in all aspects of the game by the Cubs, the boys in blue arrived in Cincinnati to right the ship. David DeJesus made sure that effort started with a bang, leading the game off with a line drive homer to right field. The Cubs then switched it up and took a small ball approach to score their second run in the third inning. Darwin Barney led off with a single and former Red Travis Wood executed an excellent sac bunt to get the runner to the second base bag. Starlin Castro would later drive in Barney with a RBI single, picking up that elusive hit with RISP. Unfortunately for the Cubs, they could do no further damage and stranded DeJesus, who had walked in front of Castro, at third, adding to the RISP woes.
Meanwhile Wood continued his ace like start to the 2013 season. Typically you see players take it up another notch against a former team, but the Wood that showed up on Monday night is the same new and improved version we have seen all of April so far. The lefty pretty much cruised through the high powered Red Machine until Jay Bruce hit him up for a solo homer to center in the bottom of the seventh. The 0.00 ERA James Russell came in to try to strand the inherited runner on third that reached off of Wood, but the lefty set up man served up a triple that nearly left for a home run and the Reds knotted the game up at two.
Closer by committee members Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg held down the fort from the ninth through eleventh innings despite three walks between the two of them. That set the stage for the Cubs offense to finally come through in the top of the thirteenth. Welington Castillo reached on an error by Todd Frazier at third base and Luis Valbuena helped the Cubs capitalize on the third Reds miscue of the night by launching a two run shot into the right field seats, putting the visitors ahead 4-2.
Unfortunately the bottom of the 13th proved to be an unlucky number for the Cubs. Michael Bowden was the latest reliever to be brought to his knees by the pressures that is the Cubs closer position, although to be fair to the young pitcher, he was put in the unfamiliar role as a matter of the game going extra innings. Bowden had actually set the Reds down in order in the 12th inning, but the Reds hit their way on base in the following frame. Bowden would allow a single and two doubles, with Bruce being the culprit again, to tie the game up at four. With two outs in the inning, Cesar Izturis provided the game winning RBI single to walk over his former team for the victory.
We have yet to escape the month of April and Cub fans may already be starting to turn their attention away from the team. But as bad as the losses were in Milwaukee over the weekend, I have no issues with how the Cubs went down in Cincy last night. The division leading Reds just came through when they needed to and at the least the North Siders did not do anything to shoot themselves in the foot. As pathetic as it sounds to take a silver lining in something as small as that, it is a step in the right direction for a team that looked like a minor league squad over the weekend in Miller Park.