It looked to be a long afternoon in Wrigley Field on Friday for the Cincinnati Reds against the Chicago Cubs.
In the end it was a stunner of a comeback for the Reds, a can-you-believe-this 6-5 victory over the Cubs.
They were down 4-0 in the third inning, they were down 5-4 in the ninth inning — until Eugenio Suarez stepped to the plate with Joey Votto on first via a vintage 3-and-2 walk.
Cubs closer Steve Cishek had not given up a home run to a right-handed batter all year in 54 innings and Suarez wiped that away.
He drove a pitch deep into the left center bleachers, his team-leading 14th home run, and a dramatic victory in a game that seemed out of reach in the early going.
Before the Reds could put a runner on base, the Cubs had four runs on three home runs, two of which nearly knocked down the John Hancock Tower.
They all came off Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani, who threw in his second straight clunker against the first-place Cubs.
The first batter DeSclafani faced, Middletown’s Kyle Schwarber, launched one into the great beyond, over the right field bleachers for a crash landing on Sheffield Avenue.
DeSclafani retired the first two in the bottom of the third and had a 0-and-2 count on Schwarber. Perhaps remembering the home run that nearly knocked down the elevated tracks outside the stadium, DeSclafani got careful and walked him.
That permitted Kris Bryant to bat and he dropped one into the left center bleachers for a 3-0 lead. The next batter, Anthony Rizzo, nearly reached Lake Michigan with a belligerent blast for another home run. It was Rizzo’s 16th career home run against the Reds, the most he has against any team.
It put the Cubs ahead, 4-0, and the three home runs lifted the total off DeSclafani this year to 13 in 48 innings.
Meanwhile, the Reds were facing Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, who shut them down on one run and three hits a little more than a week ago in Great American Ball Park.
He retired the first nine in order before the Reds broke through for a run in the fourth on Joey Votto’s bloop double and Yasiel Puig’s bloop single. The Reds, though, had the bases loaded with two outs before Jose Iglesias grounded out.
It was a start that ended on the huge plus side. Hendricks had not given up an earned run in Wrigley in 31 innings.
The Reds got one-out singles by pinch-hitter Jose Peraza and then Nick Senzel. But Votto lined out to right field and Eugenio Suarez grounded out.
The Reds began to solve Hendricks in the sixth inning when Jesse Winker singled and Yasiel Puig drilled one into the left-field bleachers, a two-run home run that drew the Reds to within 4-3.
Hendricks was replaced in the sixth by Brad Brach and the Reds drew even with a run on three straight two-out hits by Votto, Suarez and Winker to tie it, 4-4.
Puig, who drove in the first three runs, had a chance to push the Reds ahead with runners on third and second but he struck out.
Relief pitcher Matt Bowman, making his Reds debut after a call-up Friday (outfielder Phillip Ervin was returned to Louisville), pitched a 1-2-3 sixth on three ground balls and struck out Addison Russell to open the seventh.
With left hander Schwarber due up, Reds manager David Bell pulled Bowman and brought in left hander Amir Garrett. He promptly struck out Schwarber and retired Bryant on a come-backer to the mound.
The Reds again put two on base after the first two made outs and Cubs manager Joe Maddon made a bold decision. He brought in left hander Mike Montgomery to face right hander Nick Senzel.
Garrett threw a perfect 0-and-2 slider to Rizzo, leading off the eighth, and he reached down-and-out and poked a single to center field. Garrett struck out Javier Baez and Jason Heyward lined to center. In the process, though, Garrett ignored Rizzo at first base and he stole second.
Garrett walked Victor Caratini and Bell brought in David Hernandez to face pinch-hitter Willson Contreras and he pulled a run-scoring single t put the Cubs ahead, 5-4.
All that was left was for Suarez to do his thing that numbed everybody in Wrigley Field and brought the Reds from the doldrums to delight, especially after they blew a 6-1 lead in Milwaukee on Wednesday and lost, 11-9.
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