Bullpen falters, Reds finally lose at Wrigley Field
Cincinnati's 12-game winning streak at Cubs' ballpark snapped
CHICAGO -- The Cubs finally snapped the Reds' 12-game winning streak at Wrigley Field on Thursday. But the Reds didn't let it go easily.
It took 14 innings, but Chicago finally put the streak to rest after the Reds' bullpen faltered in the eighth inning and Jonathan Broxton surrendered the game-winning single to pinch-hitter Julio Borbon in a 6-5 decision.
It was Cincinnati's longest game of the season, eclipsing three 13-inning affairs. Including starter Mat Latos -- whose franchise-record streak without a loss was extended to 21 with the no-decision -- and Broxton, Dusty Baker used seven pitchers, including Curtis Partch, who logged four innings for his longest outing since when he was a Minor League starter last year.
"I feel a lot better now that we broke that streak," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "If we have to play extra innings to beat them, we'll play extra innings."
Baker was hoping not to use Broxton because the right-hander has been experiencing elbow soreness, and it prompted the skipper to ask position players like Shin-Soo Choo and Jay Bruce about their ability to pitch. The only arm left in the 'pen was closer Aroldis Chapman, who Baker shied away from in case he was needed to close.
"We had [Broxton] penciled as a no, and he said he could go one inning," Baker said. "We were trying to sneak him through one inning, and we were going to go to Chapman for two, maybe, which we really didn't want to go to."
Even with the loss -- Cincinnati's sixth in 39 games when leading after seven innings -- the Reds are still 19-4 in their last 23 games against the Cubs dating back to last season.
Sam LeCure inherited a 5-4 lead in the eighth after the game had gone back-and forth to that point. Jay Bruce, who went 4-for-7, and Joey Votto (two RBIs) paced the steady offense.
The Reds had 10 hits off Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija, but nine of them were singles. Cincinnati nearly batted around in the fifth, with three hits and two walks, but Samardzija limited the damage to two runs, as Cincinnati jumped ahead 4-2.
"I was thinking we didn't have enough [runs], because I've seen a bunch of weird stuff happen in this ballpark," Baker said.
Nate Schierholtz, who hurt the Reds with two triples already on the day, walked with one out against LeClure in the eighth and scored on Darwin Barney's two-out single.
From there, it was largely Partch's strong effort out of the bullpen that kept the Reds alive. The rookie's four innings were the most he's thrown, he figured, since April of last year with Double-A Pensacola.
"All I was trying to do was throw it where I needed to," he said. "I wasn't trying to throw too hard or anything like that. I was just thinking about executing pitches."
Baker then reluctantly handed it over to Broxton, who last pitched on Sunday.
"I don't think I would hurt myself," Broxton said. "I was just out there, nothing was killing me out there. I was still hitting 95 [miles per hour]."
It's the fifth blown save in one of Latos' starts since he started his unbeaten streak in August of last year.
"If I make an adjustment earlier in the game, that kind of situation doesn't really happen," Latos said. "I felt like it was a pretty lame attempt by me to not really make that adjustment, and it shows. Everybody in our bullpen -- a guy who had the day off had to come in and throw. That's pretty pathetic whenever I can't [get the job done] … I should have made an adjustment."