Chicago Cubs walk-off on wild pitch in drama-filled battle against Reds
By Jake Misener
John Lackey pitched well and stole a base. Anthony Rizzo hit a first-inning grand slam. Just like that, the Chicago Cubs topped the Cincinnati Reds.
One of these things, you may expect. When you turned on the Chicago Cubs game, the second occurrence wasn’t exactly what you’d call ‘likely.’
Taking matters into his own hands in the bottom of the first, first baseman Anthony Rizzo smacked a grand slam off right-hander Homer Bailey to blow things open early. Ben Zobrist and Kyle Schwarber singled before Kris Bryant drew a walk, setting up the bases-loaded blast.
For the Cubs first baseman, the home run marked his team-leading 28th shot of the season. He also leads the club with 80 runs batted in with a month-and-a-half left in the campaign.
A costly poor call
But the fate of the game wasn’t decided until the bottom of the ninth. Javier Baez led things off with a double. Pinch-hitter Jon Jay followed, drawing a walk.
Wandy Peralta hit the next batter, Ben Zobrist, with a pitch. But the home plate umpire said Zo failed to pull the bat back on his bunt attempt, erasing what could have been a bases-loaded, nobody out situation. Joe Maddon was ejected after a fiery exchange with multiple umpires.
Instead, Zobrist chopped a ball down the third-base line, serving as a bunt and advancing both men into scoring position.
Cincinnati turned to Blake Wood in a jam. The right-hander set down Albert Almora Jr. on strikes, bringing up Bryant with the game on the line. Wood uncorked a breaking pitch that got past Tucker Barnhart, and Baez raced home for the winning run.
Trading blows – of different sizes
Chicago (63-56) answered right back with the Rizzo home run after Eugenio Suarez plated a run off Lackey in the top of the first. For the veteran right-hander, things went uphill from that point on.
Lackey turned in six innings of one-run, four-hit baseball. He struck out six and walked three – but more importantly, avoided the long-ball, which has plagued him all year.
Leading 4-1 in the bottom of the third, Alex Avila singled to left, scoring Rizzo. The Cubs added another insurance run in the sixth on a Tommy LaStella two-bagger, scoring Jason Heyward.
Cincinnati made things interesting in the top of the seventh against Hector Rondon. After Phillip Ervin his his first career home run – a solo shot – Zack Cozart followed with an absolute bomb that pulled the Reds within two, 6-4.
In the eighth, things came fully unraveled. Adam Duvall took Carl Edwards Jr. deep, hitting a two-run home run to tie the game 6-6. Edwards’ up-and-down season continues, as he allowed the game-tying blast and cost Lackey a shot at a win.
Next: Every team has its bad days - even reigning champs
Jon Lester (8-7, 3.99) closes out the series for the Cubs on Thursday afternoon. Former Cub Scott Feldman (7-7, 4.43) toes the rubber for the Reds.
First pitch is at 1:20 p.m.