Chicago Cubs falter in 6-3 loss to Reds
Theo Epstein wasn't going to get caught speaking too soon about the good feeling his Chicago Cubs created over the weekend with a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates. With good reason.
"That was a really good series," the team president said before Monday night's 6-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds at steamy Wrigley Field. "We looked a lot more like ourselves. We're not going to pat ourselves on the back. It was the first series we won in a month. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves. That was really good to see. We've got to keep it going on a consistent basis."
The Cubs had their moments -- both good and bad -- in Monday night's game.
Kyle Schwarber hit his 20th home run of the season in the third inning to tie the game at 1-1 after Eugenio Suarez homered in the first inning off Kyle Hendricks. Some heads-up baserunning enabled the Cubs to take a 3-1 lead in the fourth, with Anthony Rizzo sliding home on a wild pitch by Luis Castillo on a ball that did not bounce all that far from the plate.
The bad moments were errors by shortstop Javier Baez and third baseman David Bote in the seventh after Curt Casali led off the inning with a homer off reliever Steve Cishek. The errors combined to allowed the Reds to take a 4-3 lead.
The Reds went up 6-3 in the eighth, thanks in part to a wild pitch by Randy Rosario and a pop foul that dropped between first baseman Rizzo and catcher Victor Caratini. That allowed pinch hitter Kyle Farmer new life, and he promptly doubled in a run. Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen, a good-hitting pitcher, singled home another run in the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Cubs baserunner Addison Russell was doubled off second on Albert Almora's lineout to third, resulting in an inning-ending double play.
"We just did not make some plays, and that was it," said manager Joe Maddon, whose team fell to 50-44. "Everything just kind of fell apart uncharacteristically. No answers. We had opportunities to score a lot more runs. That's really what it comes down to."
Hendricks, who was on the injured list from mid-June to early July, turned in his first quality start since June 9, working 6 innings and giving up 4 hits and 2 runs. He gave up a sixth-inning home run to Yasiel Puig.
On a tough night to pitch, Hendricks did his best to contain the Reds.
"We get a lot of those days here," he said. "It just comes down to keeping the same focus and making good pitches. I kind of always say if you make good pitches, you still get outs. Today I just made two pitches I didn't get away with. Maybe on a normal day I get away with those. It's going to be OK. Overall I actually felt a lot better. My timing was a lot better. My fastball command was a lot better. I feel really close to where I was. I just have to build off this."