Baez’s 15th-inning slam seals Cubs’ win over Reds
Javier Baez’s grand slam highlighted a five-run 15th inning, and the Chicago Cubs earned a 7-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park.
Kris Bryant, coming off a historic performance Monday night, began Tuesday 0-for-4 with a strikeout and two walks before he singled off J.J. Hoover (1-2) to drive home Ben Zobrist in the 15th, making the score 3-2. Baez’s grand slam was the sixth allowed by Hoover, a Reds franchise record.
Cincinnati’s much-maligned bullpen shined for much of the gamem with four relievers combining for 8 1/3 hitless innings before the Cubs broke through against Hoover.
Joey Votto made a bid for a game-winning single in the 13th, but Chicago second baseman Ben Zobrist made a leaping grab, then doubled off Ivan De Jesus Jr. to end the inning.
Jon Lester pitched eight shutout innings and Zobrist hit a game-opening homer, helping the Cubs (50-26) take a 2-1 lead into the ninth inning.
However, Cincinnati (29-49) rallied to tie the score.Hector Rondon, who recorded the final out in the eighth, blew a chance for his 15th save in the ninth. With runners on first and second, Rondon struck out Adam Duvall looking for the second out. Eugenio Suarez followed with a single to left, driving home the tying run.
Lester cruised through seven innings, allowing one hit on 86 pitches, and he appeared in line for his fifth career shutout.
After retiring 14 straight, though, his old nemesis, Billy Hamilton, struck again, homering on a 3-2 pitch to cut the Reds’ deficit to 2-1.
It was the third home run this season for Hamilton, two coming off Lester. Hamilton now has a total of 13 career homers.
Travis Wood twice moved from left field to the mound in the latter innings, becoming the first Cubs pitcher to play left since Sean Marshall in 2009.
Spencer Patton (1-0), who along with fellow pitchers Wood and Pedro Strop made appearances in left field, got the victory after retiring the only two batters he faced. Wood recorded one out in the 14th, then pitched around one hit in the 15th to seal the victory.
Zobrist who came in batting just .125 on the road trip, broke out of his slump in the first inning when he jumped on an 0-2 pitch from John Lamb for his 10th home run to begin the game.Lester delivered at the plate in the fifth with an RBI single to drive home Matt Szczur, who doubled, making the score 2-0. It was Lester’s third hit of the season and third RBI.
NOTES: Cubs 3B Kris Bryant, who became the first player in modern baseball history to hit three home runs and have two doubles in a game Monday night, sent his cap to Cooperstown but said he’s keeping his bat and jersey for a while. … Reds 2B Brandon Phillips celebrated his 35th birthday on Tuesday. … Cubs SS Addison Russell had a day off. Javier Baez started at short. … At 24 years and five months old, Bryant is the youngest Cubs player to reach 20 homers (21) before the All-Star break since Ernie Banks in 1955. … Reds RHP Homer Bailey pitched one inning, allowing two homers on 25 pitches in his first rehab appearance for Triple-A Louisville on Monday. He’s scheduled to pitch again Saturday.