If theChicago Cubs
were looking for some positives, they found a few of them tonight.Starlin Castro
hit a walk-off single for the second straight night to beat the Cincinnati Reds 2-1 to claim the four-game series.Jon Lester
didn’t figure in the decision, but he put the past two games behind him and looked more ace-like in the win.
The Cubs (34-27) once again struggled to get Lester much run support as they didn’t score their first run until he exited in the bottom of the seventh inning. After a David Ross double to start the inning, pinch-hitter Jonathan Herrera moved him to third on the sacrifice bunt. After walking Addison Russel, Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani was pulled for reliever Ryan Mattheus. Dexter Fowler hit a sacrifice fly to score Ross, and Lester was off the hook and the Cubs were back in the game.
The Reds (28-34) got a solid performance from DeSclafani, but it wasn’t enough as they once again struggled to drive in runners in scoring position. They finished the evening 1-for-12 with RISP, including leaving the bases loaded in the ninth after loading them with no one out. Jason Motte forced Brayan Pena to pop out, struck out Eugenio Suarez, and then coaxed the fly ball out from Kristopher Negron to escape the jam.
A Chris Coghlan double with one out in the 11th set the stage for last night’s hero Castro once again. The Reds chose not to bring in closer Aroldis Chapman, and that move backfired. Burke Badenhop (0-2, 6.55) left a pitch over the plate that Castro ripped into left field past Negron for the game winner. Being mobbed twice in two nights can be taxing, but Castro won’t complain after harsh criticism from many as of late.
Brian Schlitter (1-2, 7.36) who was just recalled today, pitched 2/3 of an inning in getting the win.
What Stood Out:
The Cubs bullpen was once again magnificent, pitching four shutout innings to hold off the Reds. But the play of the night came on a Joey Votto double in the sixth. With Brandon Phillips on first, third base coach Jim Riggleman waved home Phillips who slid into the plate and called safe. But after Joe Maddon called for a review, the play was overturned and he was called out. The Reds flied out the next two at-bats (which would have scored Phillips had he been held) and proved to be critical.
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The Cubs needed a big game from Lester and they got it as he went seven innings allowing just one run on five hits. Reds speedster Billy Hamilton went wild on the bases for five steals but never scored.
The Cubs will open up a four-game series with the Cleveland Indians, and will get a chance to see newly called up phenom Francisco Lindor. Jake Arrieta will take the hill for the Cubs against the Tribe’s Trevor Bauer.