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Cubs fall to hot Reds for second night in row

Chicago hitless until the 4th; Quintana allows 3 runs in 5th
MLB.com @alysonfooter

CINCINNATI -- The Cubs, 12 games over .500 entering Friday's game, seemingly had the advantage when they opened their series against the Reds, who, 75 games into the season, are in last place in the National League Central, with a double-digit deficit.

But every team has its hot streaks, and the Cubs seemingly have run into their division foes at the perfectly wrong time. The Reds, winners of eight of their past 10 games, topped the Cubs for a second night in a row at Great American Ball Park on Friday, prevailing, 6-3.

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CINCINNATI -- The Cubs, 12 games over .500 entering Friday's game, seemingly had the advantage when they opened their series against the Reds, who, 75 games into the season, are in last place in the National League Central, with a double-digit deficit.

But every team has its hot streaks, and the Cubs seemingly have run into their division foes at the perfectly wrong time. The Reds, winners of eight of their past 10 games, topped the Cubs for a second night in a row at Great American Ball Park on Friday, prevailing, 6-3.

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The Reds now own a 4-3 record this season against the Cubs. All seven games have been played in Cincinnati.

Video: CHC@CIN: Maddon on Quintana's performance in 6-3 loss

"We haven't played great here," manager Joe Maddon said. "We've played two of our least impressive games in about a month. It's just not been us playing our typical game. We grab a lot of energy off our defense; we needed to grab some off our offense. If we start hitting, we'll start doing what we're supposed to do. We've got to be more consistent at the plate."

The Cubs logged their first hit off Reds starter Luis Castillo in the fourth inning when Ben Zobrist laced a one-out double down the right-field line, barely in fair territory. That led to a three-run frame highlighted by Ohio native Kyle Schwarber's team-leading 15th homer of the season, a two-run shot that gave the Cubs a 3-1 advantage.

Video: CHC@CIN: Baez hit by pitch, call stands in the 6th

The lead was short-lived. Joey Votto drove in a run in the fifth with a base hit to center off Cubs lefty Jose Quintana, and Eugenio Suarez followed with a 421-foot, two-run homer to center, pushing the Reds ahead by a run.

Quintana entered this start with a 2.78 road ERA, significantly better than his 6.00 mark at Wrigley Field. He yielded four earned runs to the Reds in this outing, walking two and striking out three.

Video: CHC@CIN: Suarez clubs a 2-run homer to center field

"The biggest mistake for me was the home run," Quintana said. "I just missed my spot. That was a bad pitch, especially having just gotten the offense to help me out. It was just a bad time to have that happen. That's really what cost us the game."

The home run was hit off a changeup that caught the middle of the plate.

"One pitch just changed the game," Quintana said. "It was a battle. We needed this game."

The Reds tacked on an insurance run in the seventh off lefty reliever Justin Wilson, who allowed three Reds runners to reach base -- Votto via a leadoff walk, Suarez on a single to left and Adam Duvall, whose base hit to center drove in Votto.

Video: CHC@CIN: Wilson lays out to snag a bunt attempt

The Cubs have lost seven of their last 12 games, scoring nine runs in those seven losses. The Reds, meanwhile, are playing their best baseball of the year. Over their past 10 games, they've scored 56 runs and hit 13 home runs.

"We just have to hit better, and we haven't done that on a consistent basis," Maddon said. "They pitched well. Castillo's got a good arm, their bullpen's been better. So they have pitched better. But we still have to figure out a different way to score some runs."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Schwarber's fourth-inning homer traveled 399 feet and left his bat at 102.7 mph, according to Statcast™. He now leads the team in homers, surpassing Javier Baez, who has 14 on the year.

"Schwarber's getting different -- he's getting different in a good way," Maddon said. "He's handling the ball up in the zone a lot better. He's not missing it. He's looked really good." More >

Video: CHC@CIN: Schwarber cranks a 2-run homer to center

SOUND SMART
Baez's suicide squeeze bunt in the fourth inning was the second successful squeeze by the Cubs vs. the Reds this season. Jon Lester squeezed home Schwarber on May 18, with Homer Bailey on the mound for Cincinnati.

Video: CHC@CIN: Baez plates Zobrist with a bunt single

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Maddon won a replay challenge in the third inning after Chris Gimenez was originally called out on a tag play at first base following a high throw by Suarez from third. But Maddon expressed his displeasure to the umpires that Gimenez was originally called out, considering that from Maddon's perspective, it was not possible to determine if the runner was safe or out from the vantage point of either home-plate umpire Jeremie Rehak, or first-base ump Greg Gibson.

By making an out call, the burden of proof then fell to the Cubs to prove it wrong. Maddon would have preferred the umpires had gotten together to discuss the play and check to see if anyone had a proper view.

"Unless you're absolutely certain you saw a tag, say, 'I didn't see anything,'" Maddon said. "Where [Gibson] was, I thought it was almost impossible from his view to definitively say, 'I saw a tag.' If you're going to say he tagged him, you better be 100 percent sure."

Video: CHC@CIN: Gimenez is ruled safe at first after review

UP NEXT
Luke Farrell will make his first start of 2018 when he takes the mound for the Cubs on Saturday against the Reds at 3:10 p.m. CT. The right-hander, who was named the starter following Friday's game, has made 12 relief appearances this year, allowing seven earned runs over 17 1/3 innings for a 3.63 ERA. The Cubs, looking to climb back in the series after losing the first two games, will face right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (2-1, 4.60).

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Chicago Cubs, Jose Quintana, Kyle Schwarber