5/3 Reds 6, Cubs 5
The Cubs rebounded from Thursday’s tough loss but it took until the ninth inning Friday to do so. The Cubs rallied for three runs in the ninth against Aroldis Chapman but came up short, 6-5, against the Reds. Manager Dale Sveum wasn’t sure what to expect after a heartbreaking 4-2 loss to the Padres on Thursday when Travis Wood threw seven shutout innings, but was hurt by two defensive lapses in the eighth.
“That was one of the tougher ones, if not the toughest loss we’ve had this year because it was kind of in our control,” Sveum said of Thursday’s game.
Chapman was 6-for-6 in save opportunities, but when he took over in the ninth with a 6-2 lead, it wasn’t a save situation. The Cubs loaded the bases on pinch-hit singles by Dioner Navarro and Dave Sappelt as well another base hit by Starlin Castro. Chapman struck out Anthony Rizzo and got Alfonso Soriano to fly out. Pinch-hitter Scott Hairston then drew a walk to force in a run, and Welington Castillo smacked a two-run single to center to close to 6-5. Pinch-hitter Cody Ransom walked to load the bases and chase Chapman, and J.J. Hoover struck out Darwin Barney to end the game.
“Those were some great at-bats today off the best closer in the game,” Sveum said of the ninth. “Hopefully, we can learn from that, too. Instead of waiting until a guy throws 98 [mph], we need to make those adjustments when a guy is throwing 94.”
What were the Cubs doing against Chapman?
“Be more patient,” Castro said. “The guy can throw strikes. If you take some pitches, he has to throw every pitch for a strike.”
“Sometimes you get hit,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s not a control thing. Sometimes you have to give hitters credit. They did some good hitting against Chapman.”
The Cubs did collect a season high 15 hits but also stranded 12.
“Everybody tried to do something because it was a tough game to lose yesterday,” Castro said. “Everybody was ready in the ninth inning.”
It was just too late.
“We’ve lost so many games by one run,” Carlos Villanueva said. “Really good teams, teams that are in the playoffs every year, the record is the other way and in one-run games, you come out on top. For us, we have to get it done when it counts. If it’s making a better pitch, having a better approach at the dish, we have to do whatever it takes to improve on that.”
– Carrie Muskat