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Duvall homers, but early deficit sinks Reds

Bailey struggles vs. division-rival Cubs at rain-soaked GABP
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Homer Bailey isn't lacking velocity with his fastball, but he's not missing bats often enough these days. That was on display again on Friday, when, after a one-hour, 33-minute delay, the Reds faced the Cubs amid steady showers.

It was a deluge of hits that did in Bailey almost immediately. Before notching his first out, Bailey allowed five hits and three runs, and it was a long night from there in the Reds' 8-1 loss to the Cubs at Great American Ball Park.

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CINCINNATI -- Homer Bailey isn't lacking velocity with his fastball, but he's not missing bats often enough these days. That was on display again on Friday, when, after a one-hour, 33-minute delay, the Reds faced the Cubs amid steady showers.

It was a deluge of hits that did in Bailey almost immediately. Before notching his first out, Bailey allowed five hits and three runs, and it was a long night from there in the Reds' 8-1 loss to the Cubs at Great American Ball Park.

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"Within about three or four pitches, they had driven a couple of balls pretty well and kind of set the tone a little bit," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "But Homer battled. He was getting knocked around, but I have to tip my hat to him; he kept battling. Next thing you know, it's a four-run ballgame."

In his 4 2/3 innings, Bailey gave up six earned runs, 10 hits and five walks (three intentional), with three strikeouts.

In his 10 starts, Bailey is 1-6 with a 6.11 ERA. He had a 3.68 ERA through his first five starts, but has posted a 9.13 ERA in his last five games.

"It's tough on me. I know it's tough on the coaches and Tucker [Barnhart] and everybody else," Bailey said. "They definitely expect me to do a little bit better. It's the middle of May. We still have a long time to go. I feel like it's just a matter of time before things really start clicking and we get on a really hot streak."

Three batters into the game, Anthony Rizzo lined an RBI single to left field that scored Ben Zobrist. Willson Contreras' RBI single to left field then brought in Kris Bryant, and in the first of his career-high-tying four-hit game, Addison Russell hit an RBI single to center field that scored Rizzo.

With a doubleheader on Saturday, Bailey was able to remain in the game into the fifth inning to help somewhat preserve the bullpen.

"I was trying to," Bailey said. "Sometimes I was catching a little too much of the zone. They did what good hitters do. They hit some balls in the gap, some ground balls that went through, some singles over and over and really made me work today."

Video: CHC@CIN: Riggleman, Bailey discuss loss to Cubs

Switching to starting off hitters with off-speed stuff in the top of the second, Bailey recovered for a 1-2-3 inning, but the Cubs loaded the bases with two hits and a walk in the third. Contreras scored as Javier Baez grounded into a double play, and Bailey avoided any further damage. Trouble returned in the fifth when Russell opened with a single and scored from first base on Kyle Schwarber's double to deep center field. After Schwarber reached third base, he scored on Jon Lester's squeeze bunt, which made it a 6-0 game.

"I went back and watched it. It's a little frustrating, because there were some good pitches there that they did a good job hitting," Bailey said. "That's kind of tough sometimes. Man, sometimes it's just the way it goes. That's a pretty good offense over there, and they did a great job. I thought Tucker did a really good job of calling pitches. Sometimes it just doesn't go the way you want it to."

That's been the case most of this season for the 32-year-old Bailey. According to Statcast™, of the 99 starting pitchers who have had at least 300 swings against them in 2018, Bailey's 16 percent whiff rate entering the night was the fourth lowest.

And bad things happen when Bailey doesn't get whiffs. Of the 119 starters who have had at least 100 batted balls put in play, Bailey's 44.4 percent hard-hit rate (a 95-mph exit velocity or higher) was the 11th-highest in the Majors.

A lack of swings and misses combined with hard contact makes success difficult to find. In Statcast™'s expected stats, which factor in quality of contact plus strikeouts, Bailey checks in as the ninth-highest in expected batting average allowed (.311) and the sixth-highest slugging percentage allowed (.614) among 164 big league pitchers with at least 100 plate appearances against them.

"I know there's nothing physical there, not with his arm anyway," Riggleman said. "He's just got to figure it out. I don't know what else to say. I felt like the first three or four starts of the year, he was really pretty good. It's been the starts since then that he's been getting hit. That's a pretty good lineup that got him tonight."

Lester, meanwhile, didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning, and the only damage against him came when Adam Duvall led off the Reds' fifth by hitting the first pitch into the left-field seats. It was Duvall's team-leading ninth home run of the season.

Cincinnati lacked any other offense, finishing with two hits. Other than Duvall, no one else reached second base on the night.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Duvall clears fence again: When Duvall took Lester deep, it was his second homer in as many games and his third homer in his last four games. Duvall is off to a poor start to the season, batting .194/.278/.438, but he's 5-for-13 in his last four games.

Video: CHC@CIN: Duvall skies a solo homer to left field

SOUND SMART
Following Bailey's departure, Jackson Stephens provided 3 1/3 innings of relief, allowing five hits and one earned run. It was the longest outing by a Reds reliever this season, with Dylan Floro the only other pitcher to go three innings in '18. It was also the longest relief outing of Stephens' career.

"He really saved us," Riggleman said. "With the doubleheader tomorrow and then the ballgame the next day, we needed to use as few guys as possible. Jackson giving us three-plus there really helped. It was a good effort."

UP NEXT
The Reds will host a day-night doubleheader vs. the Cubs at 1:10 p.m. and 7:10 p.m. ET on Saturday. Luis Castillo will start Game 1 and is coming off of a strong six-inning start vs. the Dodgers, in which he pitched six innings and struck out eight in a 5-3 Reds win. Sal Romano will start Game 2 and try to rebound from the short outing he had in a 10-7 loss. He gave up a career-high six earned runs over 2 1/3 innings. Kyle Hendricks gets the nod in Game 1 for Chicago, and Jose Quintana starts Game 2.

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.

Cincinnati Reds, Homer Bailey