The Cincinnati Reds had a lead heading into the 7th inning, but the bullpen imploded as they gave up the lead in the 7th and watched the Cubs score seven runs in the 8th and three more in the 9th as Chicago pulled away to earn a win on Sunday and pick up a series split.
Carson Spiers took the mound for his big league debut and had a warm welcome from the Cubs who put together three singles in the 1st inning to grab a 1-0 lead. The offense had his back in the bottom of the inning, with TJ Friedl and Spencer Steer hitting back-to-back solo homers to put Cincinnati in front 2-1. Chicago would tie things up in the top of the 2nd after Nick Madrigal hit a 1-out double and scored on a single by Mike Tauchman. Spiers would walk two batters around Tauchman to load the bases and Ian Happ put the Cubs ahead 3-2 with a sacrifice fly.
Their lead didn’t last very long because after Will Benson was hit by a pitch it was Tyler Stephenson’s turn to crush a home run – a 2-run shot that put Cincinnati ahead 4-3. Spiers returned to the mound for 3rd and settled in, striking out four of the next six batters he faced as he tossed two perfect frames to keep the Reds in front 4-3 heading into the 5th inning and close out his big league debut with four innings of 3-run baseball that saw him strike out seven batters.
Chasen Shreve took over in the 5th inning for the Reds and made his debut for the club after being released by Detroit three weeks ago and signing a minor league deal with Cincinnati. He tossed a perfect inning, but when he returned for the 6th the second pitch he threw was belted into the seats by Cody Bellinger to tie the game up. With a right-handed batter due up the Reds called Lucas Sims into the game to take over.
In the bottom of the 6th inning the Reds offense got rolling with a 1-out double from Christian Encarnacion-Strand. He came around to score on a 2-out single from Tyler Stephenson as Cincinnati grabbed a 5-4 lead. Chicago got that run back in the top of the 7th when Ian Gibaut gave up a 2-out double that was followed by an RBI single from Ian Happ, who continues to destroy the Reds in Cincinnati.
Derek Law took the mound to start the 8th inning and gave up back-to-back singles before hitting Jeimer Candelario to load the bases with no outs. That was enough for David Bell, who walked out to the mound and called for Alexis Diaz to enter the game in the toughest of situations. He got ahead of Nick Madrigal 1-2, but a fastball well above the zone was grounded back up the middle to plate two runs as the Cubs took a 7-5 lead.
Things didn’t improve from there. Miles Mastrobuoni laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Diaz fielded it and threw it wide and pulled Christian Encarnacion-Strand and everyone was safe. An RBI single followed to plate two more runs and extend Chicago’s lead to 9-5. That was all for Diaz and the Reds turned to Brett Kennedy. He came in and got a ground out for the first out of the inning, but then walked Ian Happ to load the bases once again. Cody Bellinger then hit a sacrifice fly to make it 10-5. Dansby Swanson capped the inning off with a 2-run double off of the wall in right field to put his team up by seven runs.
The home team wasn’t ready to just roll over despite a huge deficit. Spencer Steer led off the bottom of the 8th with a walk and moved up to third base on a 2-out double by Will Benson. Tyler Stephenson then followed up with a walk of his own to load the bases – his 4th time reaching base on the day. Chicago’s pitching coach made a trip to the mound before Noelvi Marte stepped up to the plate. Whatever he said didn’t work because Marte took an 88 MPH cutter and doubled in two runs to make it 12-7. That was all they’d get, sending the game to the 9th inning.
The Cubs wasted no time getting things started again as Jeimer Candelario led off the inning with a homer, making it 13-7. They would add on two more runs thanks to two doubles and a single as they went ahead 15-7. Cincinnati would get a leadoff single in the bottom of the 9th, but the Reds went in order after that
Key Moment of the Game
Derek Law loading the bases to start the 8th inning. Everything unraveled from there.
Notes worth noting
The Reds allowed 10 runs in the final two innings on nine hits, a walk, and a hit batter.
Tyler Stephenson went 3-3 with a walk, homer, and three runs batted in on the day.
The loss dropped the Reds to 3.0 games behind the Cubs for second place. For the time being it also dropped them a half-game back for the final wild card spot.
Up Next for the Cincinnati Reds
Seattle Mariners vs Cincinnati Reds
Monday September 4th, 4:10pm ET
TBA vs Bryan Woo (2-3, 4.15 ERA)