In a game that featured little offense it was a clutch 2-out, 2-run double in the bottom of the 6th inning by Joey Votto that was the difference. Sonny Gray’s return to the mound was followed by five relievers combining to close the game out as the Cincinnati Reds hung on to a 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs.
|Chicago Cubs (42-40)
|Cincinnati Reds (41-40)||2||4||1|
|W: Osich (1-0) L: Mills (3-2) SV: Hembree (2)
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For some reason when the Reds see Sonny Gray on the mound they leave their bats in the dugout. When Gray exited the game after five innings pitched the Cincinnati offense had just two base runners all game – a Jonathan India single and a Joey Votto hit-by-pitch. Fortunately Gray only allowed one run on the night and despite the offense being non-existent during his outing, the team was in the game.
Things got moving in the right direction during the 6th inning. Jonathan India walked with one out in the inning. After a fly out, Nick Castellanos singled to put runners on 1st and 2nd for Joey Votto. Alec Mills was removed and replaced on the mound by Adam Morgan to set up a lefty-lefty match up. Votto and the Reds came out ahead on this one as the Cincinnati first baseman doubled into the right field corner to plate both runners and put the home team up 2-1.
Sonny Gray returned from the injured list on Friday night and he looked like he hadn’t missed any time at all. He was cruising through the first three innings of the game. The Cubs did get to him in the 4th inning when Kris Bryant singled and then scored on a 2-out double by Jason Heyward. Another double in the 5th inning, this time by Willson Contreras, put Gray in another jam but he struck out Javier Baez to end the inning. It was his 8th strikeout of the day, and it would also be the last batter he faced.
Art Warren entered the game for the 6th with the Reds trailing 1-0 and looked to keep it there. He hit Anthony Rizzo, but retired the next two hitters he faced before David Bell brought in lefty Josh Osich to face Jason Heyward who grounded out to Joey Votto to end the inning.
Amir Garrett entered the game for the top of the 7th inning but after a 2-out walk to Joc Pederson, David Bell brought in Brad Brach to face Willson Contreras. It wasn’t easy – Jonathan India had a foul ball ricochet off of his glove and then a ball that Eugenio Suárez had to field in the outfield grass, but a strong and accurate throw beat Contreras to the bag by a matter of inches to end the inning. The play was so close that the Cubs asked for a review – one that they lost. Brach returned for the 8th to face the heart of the Chicago order and made quick work of them with two strikeouts and a check swing 1-3 ground out.
Heath Hembree entered from the dugout to try and lock the game up in the 9th. It took six pitches but he struck Patrick Wisdom out to begin the inning. It only took one pitch to retire Jason Heyward on a ground out to second base. But Ian Happ singled on the 8th pitch of his at-bat to put the tying run on first base. The Cubs then went to pinch-hitter Rafael Ortega with the game on the line. Hembree and the Reds won the battle as Ortega struck out swinging to end the game.
Notes Worth Noting
The Reds announced a sellout of 40,854.
Brad Brach continues to be outstanding in the bullpen. He dropped his ERA to 2.41 on the season in 18.2 innings for the Reds.
The Brewers won their 10th consecutive game as they try to run away with the division before the All-Star break arrives.
Up Next for the Cincinnati Reds
Chicago Cubs vs Cincinnati Reds
Saturday July 3rd, 4:10pm ET
Adbert Alzolay vs Tyler Mahle (7-3, 3.74 ERA)