CINCINNATI -- In 2016, the Cubs won 15 of 19 games vs. the Reds. They also won 15 of the previous 19 games at Great American Ball Park the past two seasons. That trend continued on Friday, but it was far from easy as the game went 11 innings before
CINCINNATI -- In 2016, the Cubs won 15 of 19 games vs. the Reds. They also won 15 of the previous 19 games at Great American Ball Park the past two seasons. That trend continued on Friday, but it was far from easy as the game went 11 innings before a 6-5 Cubs victory.
Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen had a three-run lead and was one out away from notching a six-out save in the ninth inning. That was until his first-pitch fastball was scorched for a three-run home run into the right-field seats by Anthony Rizzo to make it a 5-5 game. Until that moment, the Cubs were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
"Our team played really good baseball. We fight to the end and are literally down to the last out, and you just feel like you let your team down," Lorenzen said. "That's probably the worst feeling you can have as a teammate."
In the Cubs 11th against Robert Stephenson, Albert Almora Jr. drew a one-out walk and went to third base on a sharply grounded single to right field by the next batter, Kyle Schwarber. Kristopher Bryant lifted a sacrifice fly to short left field, but it was far enough for Almora to race home against a wide throw and avoid catcher Tucker Barnhart's sweeping tag.
It was the third straight game that the Cubs rallied for a come-from-behind victory. They erased a 5-0 deficit to defeat the Brewers on Tuesday for a 9-7 win and they entered the sixth inning on Wednesday down, 4-1, before getting a 7-4 victory.
"It's so entertaining, isn't it?" Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We like the tough games, the big series. We like that stuff."
With three straight losses and defeats in five of the last seven games, Cincinnati (9-8) surrendered first place for the first time after 16 days on top of the National League Central. The new leader is the Cubs.
Cubs ace Jonathan Lester, who entered with a 1.00 ERA in his first three starts, was charged with five earned runs and nine hits over 5 2/3 innings. The left-hander walked two (one intentional) and struck out four. In his first big league start of the season, Reds pitcher Tim Adleman delivered six innings and allowed two earned runs, four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rizzo's crusher: The Reds had lefty Wandy Peralta up in the bullpen but manager Bryan Price stayed with Lorenzen to face the left-handed-hitting Rizzo. Lorenzen's 96-mph pitch was crushed with an exit velocity of 108 mph and cleared the fence in a hurry to force extras. More >
Doubled his fun: Adleman helped his own cause at a very opportune moment in the fourth inning with two outs. The Cubs opted to intentionally walk Barnhart to face Adleman, who lifted an 0-1 pitch to the wall in left-center field for a double that scored two runs and gave his team a 3-1 lead.
"It's a tough one to lose. Talking about all the good stuff kind of feels irrelevant at this point." -- Price, on being one out away from a win
"[Winning] is always fun; when you come back, it just makes it a little bit better. It doesn't matter how it looks, we got it done." -- Lester, on the come-from-behind win
Maddon said second baseman Benjamin Zobrist, who has been experiencing tightness in his back, was available to pinch-hit Friday and could be back in the lineup Sunday.
Cubs: One year and one day after no-hitting the Reds, Jacob Arrieta (2-0, 2.89 ERA) will start for Chicago at 12:10 p.m. CT Saturday in the second game of the series. Arrieta and Homer Bailey are the only pitchers to throw a no-hitter at Great American Ball Park.
Reds:Cody Reed (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will be making his first start after four solid relief appearances. In his last three appearances, he has retired all 18 batters he has faced.
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Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.
Andy Call is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Cubs on Friday.