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Get Happ-y: HR powers Cubs to comeback win

September 29, 2017

CHICAGO -- In a game that had no bearing on their postseason situation, the Cubs still showed flair for the dramatic in the late innings on Friday afternoon. In the bottom of the eighth, Ian Happ's three-run home run off of reliever Michael Lorenzen propelled the Cubs to a 5-4

CHICAGO -- In a game that had no bearing on their postseason situation, the Cubs still showed flair for the dramatic in the late innings on Friday afternoon. In the bottom of the eighth, Ian Happ's three-run home run off of reliever Michael Lorenzen propelled the Cubs to a 5-4 comeback win over the Reds at Wrigley Field.
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Cincinnati had a 4-2 lead in the eighth when reliever Amir Garrett gave up a one-out single to Thomas La Stella. Lorenzen was summoned from the bullpen and his first batter, Taylor Davis, reached on an infield hit to third base. After Lorenzen struck out Kyle Schwarber, Happ -- a product of the University of Cincinnati -- crushed a 1-1 fastball into the left-center-field bleachers for the game winner.
"Home runs in Wrigley definitely never get old," Happ said.
Happ started at third base in place of the resting Kristopher Bryant. With a collection of Cubs starters out of the lineup, Happ made the most of his big opportunity.
"I had a limited number of guys I could play today," Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. "But Happer made it right."

According to Statcast™, Happ's drive left the bat at 105 mph. With a stiff wind blowing in all day, several drives were held up and caught. But Happ's was an opposite-field rocket that didn't stay in the park. It gave the rookie 24 homers in 2017.
"He put it in that left-center gap and kept it low enough to get through that wind. He hit it good to get it out of the ballpark," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
The homer was another dent in the second half for Lorenzen. After he had a 2.93 ERA in the first half, he has a 6.32 ERA since the All-Star break.
"I need to become a better pitcher," Lorenzen said.

For his final regular-season start and tuneup for pitching in the postseason for the first time, Cubs lefty Jose Quintana went from unhittable to quite hittable in short order. Quintana retired the first 11 Reds batters he faced until Joey Votto lofted a double to right field. The rest of the lineup came alive in the top of the fifth as the first four batters collected hits and Cincinnati scored four runs while sending nine men to the plate. Phillip Ervin's two-out RBI single provided the Reds with a 3-2 lead.

Reds pitcher Robert Stephenson made his final start of 2017 and worked five innings with two runs (one earned), four hits, two walks and no strikeouts. Chicago took a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Happ scored on Quintana's suicide-squeeze bunt and Alex Avila came home on a Jonathan Jay sacrifice fly.

"Definitely not the way I wanted to finish. I'd like to have gone a little deeper and get ahead of a lot more guys, especially early in the game," said Stephenson, who had a 2.74 ERA over his last eight starts. "But as the game went on, I got a little bit better, and by the fifth inning, I felt like I was starting to get ahead on guys a lot more often."

The National League Central-winning Cubs rested several of their regulars -- including Anthony Rizzo and Bryant -- since they already have a matchup set vs. the NL East-champion Nationals next week in the NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile.
Back at Wrigley, Cubs celebrate, prep for NLDS

Squeezed by Quintana: The Cubs had runners on the corners and one out in the second inning when Quintana dropped a perfect suicide-squeeze bunt toward first base as Happ came charging home. Votto made a desperation backhanded flip to the plate that was up the line and hit Happ as he slid feet-first. The ball kicked to the backstop for an error that put runners on the corners to set up the second run for the two-run lead.

Century mark: For the first time since 2011, Votto has a 100-RBI season. For his second hit of the day, Votto scorched a two-out single off of La Stella's glove that scored Ervin for a two-run Reds lead and his 100th RBI of the season. Votto has reached safely a Major League-best 318 times in 2017. More >

"Truth be told, I don't really have a whole lot else to say today about this. It's a tough loss. But we've got some things to work on between now and Spring Training. I'm not going to get into specifics at this point. I'm just tired of watching us lose games that are there to win. -- Price, when asked to diagnose the struggles by Lorenzen

In the bottom of the seventh, Cubs reliever Hector Rondon hit a squib in front of the plate that catcher Tucker Barnhart retrieved before firing a throw to first base. Rondon was called out by umpire Mike Winters, but the Cubs challenged. Upon review, officials saw that Rondon beat the throw by a hair and overturned the call. A happy Rondon smiled and raised his fist in the air with joy because it meant he had his first big league hit.

Reds:Jackson Stephens will start Cincinnati's penultimate game of 2017 against the Cubs at 4:05 p.m. ET Saturday. Stephens gave up one earned run and two hits over six innings in a no-decision Sunday vs. the Red Sox in his last outing. His big league debut came vs. the Cubs on July 1, and he was a 5-3 winner with three earned runs and six hits allowed over five innings.
Cubs:Jonathan Lester will start for the Cubs against the Reds at 3:05 p.m. CT Saturday. He is coming off a strong outing against the Cardinals, when he allowed just one run on five hits over six innings as he continues to tune up for for the upcoming NL Division Series against the Nationals.
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Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Jeff Arnold is a contributor to based in Chicago who covered the Cubs on Friday.