Perhaps swayed by all the talk about how they only beat up on teams with losing records, the Cincinnati Reds tried to even things up Friday night by spotting the woeful Chicago Cubs three runs.
And then they beat them anyway.
Joey Votto sparked the comeback with a solo home run in the fourth, and Ryan Hanigan added the big blow a few batters later with a two-out, three-run shot to cap a five-run frame that helped send the Reds to a 7-4 victory before a Great American Ball Park sellout crowd of 40,716.
“They went at me and I got a good swing on it,” Hanigan said of his second home run of the season, which came on a 3-2 pitch from Cubs starter Scott Feldman. “That was a big turning point in the game, that five-run inning. Guys had good at-bats, were getting on base and then I popped one.”
Cincinnati entered with a gaudy record of 23-5 against teams with losing records, but the Cubs, who are 18-29 and 12.5 games behind the National League Central Division-leading St. Louis Cardinals, jumped on starter Bronson Arroyo for a quick three runs in the second inning.
Two of the runs came on Feldman’s first career home run, but Arroyo allowed only two singles and two walks after that.
“I didn’t feel great the whole game,” said Arroyo, who went six innings, allowing six hits and three earned runs while striking out two and walking two to raise his record to 5-4. “When you give up a two-run homer to the pitcher, it can play tricks on you psychologically a little bit. It was a grind for me.”
The Reds improved to 30-18, second in the NL, and moved within one game of the Cardinals, who played a late contest in Los Angeles.
The victory also continued Cincinnati’s dominance against Chicago. Dating to last year, the Reds have won 15 of the last 17 games against their division rival, including a club-record nine-game winning streak at Wrigely Field.
Votto’s home run was his eighth this season and the 18th of his career against the Cubs, the most he has hit against any team. It also gave the Reds at least one home run in nine consecutive games, their longest streak since 10 in a row from Aug. 25 to Sept. 4, 2010.
Votto added a single in the eighth to finish 2-for-4, raising his NL-leading batting average to .361.
Brandon Phillips tacked on a two-run blast in the eighth, his eighth of the year, to finish 2-for-4. Xavier Paul drove in the other Reds run with a single in the five-run fourth, and Zack Cozart followed his career-high four-hit game Wednesday with two more singles. Jay Bruce also went 2-for-4 as part of a 10-hit attack.
Aroldis Chapman allowed a leadoff single and one-out walk in the ninth before nailing down his 11th save.