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Winker hits 1st career grand slam as Reds roll

Right fielder highlights 6-run 6th, Harvey gets 2nd win
MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- Jesse Winker went into Thursday's game hitting just .175 off of left-handed pitching, but when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning to face Cubs lefty Randy Rosario, that number certainly didn't foreshadow the outcome. Winker crushed a two-out grand slam that highlighted a six-run sixth inning the Reds used to take control of the game in a 6-2 win over the Cubs on Thursday at Great American Ball Park.

"I just tried to put a good swing on a hittable pitch," Winker said. "Honestly, I was looking to hit a fastball. He has nowhere to put you with the bases loaded."

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CINCINNATI -- Jesse Winker went into Thursday's game hitting just .175 off of left-handed pitching, but when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning to face Cubs lefty Randy Rosario, that number certainly didn't foreshadow the outcome. Winker crushed a two-out grand slam that highlighted a six-run sixth inning the Reds used to take control of the game in a 6-2 win over the Cubs on Thursday at Great American Ball Park.

"I just tried to put a good swing on a hittable pitch," Winker said. "Honestly, I was looking to hit a fastball. He has nowhere to put you with the bases loaded."

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The slam was the first of Winker's career and his fourth home run of the season. For a guy not known for hitting left-handers well, his two home runs off of them have come when it mattered most. The other home run off of a lefty came on June 7, when he crushed a walk-off home run off of Colorado's Chris Rusin.

Grand slams mean 40% off pizza

"I don't listen to what other people say," Winker said. "I listen to my coaches and my teammates, and they haven't told me I can't do anything. That is big for me."

The slam, Cincinnati's sixth of the season, tied the Reds with the Red Sox for most in the Majors.

Video: CHC@CIN: Suarez draws a bases-loaded walk in the 6th

Billy Hamilton led off the inning with a walk. Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks retired Jose Peraza and Tucker Barnhart on a strikeout and a lazy fly ball before issuing a walk to Joey Votto and a base hit to Scooter Gennett. Eugenio Suarez fell behind 0-2 to Hendricks, but battled back to draw a walk that brought in Cincinnati's first run and ended Hendricks' night.

"That was huge," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "We put together some great at-bats. Votto had a walk in there, too."

The Suarez walk prompted Cubs' skipper Joe Maddon to call on Rosario to face Winker. Rosario missed away with a slider before leaving a fastball over the inner half of the plate. Winker crushed the pitch well over the wall in right-center to give the Reds a 5-2 lead. Hamilton slapped an RBI single to center field in his second at-bat of the inning to add on another run.

Video: CHC@CIN: Hamilton laces an RBI single to center field

"He's got a good slider, too," Winker said. "I wanted to lay off of it and then be on time for the fastball. I know his ball moves. I wanted to be short and direct to it. It happened to get up and get out."

Hendricks stifled the Cincinnati lineup through the first five innings of the game, surrendering a pair of singles and a walk. But for the second game in a row, the middle of the Reds' lineup ousted the opposing starter in the sixth inning and gave the team a lead.

"It is becoming more and more evident throughout the league that the sixth inning is a heck of a time," Riggleman said. "It's a tough one to get through. We have experienced it many times, even yesterday with [Detroit starter] Michael Fulmer."

The six-run outburst made good on six innings of two-run baseball from Reds starter Matt Harvey, who picked up his second win of the season and his first since May 22. Chicago tagged Harvey for a couple of runs in the third on a two-run double from Javier Baez. Harvey retired 10 of the last 13 hitters he faced after the Baez double. He struck out six and walked one in the win.

Video: CHC@CIN: Harvey fans 6 over 6 innings of 2-run ball

Harvey didn't let his mistakes compound, which was the difference in him holding it together this outing. The two runs Baez drove in came by way of a hit batsman and a Jason Heyward single. Harvey hit Addison Russell immediately following the double, but induced a ground ball for a double play to escape further damage.

"That was a big momentum shift in the outing," Harvey said. "That was the biggest pitch I made all night. After that, I was able to settle in, trust my stuff, and I located the ball pretty well."

Both of Harvey's wins this season have come since being traded to the Reds on May 8, and both have come inside the confines of Great American Ball Park. He is 2-3 in eight starts since being traded. He's completed five innings in six consecutive starts and pitched into the sixth in four of those.

"It is starting to come around," Harvey said. "We have been watching a lot of video, making sure everything stays the same throughout the start. Tonight was a lot closer to that. It's trusting your mechanics and the work that goes in between starts."

The outing continued a positive trend for the Reds, whose starters have put together three consecutive quality starts for the first time this season and have had five in the last eight games.

Chicago didn't go quietly and put multiple runners on in each of the next two innings. The Cubs loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh off Michael Lorenzen, but Amir Garrett came in and struck out Anthony Rizzo on three pitches to end the threat.

The Cubs put two more on in the eighth, but Jared Hughes relieved Garrett and struck out Albert Almora Jr. to strand the runners. A clean ninth inning from Hughes notched his fifth save of the year and secured the Reds' seventh win in nine games.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Garrett escapes jam: Chicago didn't relent after Winker's slam put the Reds in front. When the Cubs loaded the bases in the seventh off of Lorenzen, Riggleman called for Garrett out of the bullpen. Garrett wasted no time attacking one of the best hitters in baseball. He snuck a slider by Rizzo and then fired a pair of 97-mph fastballs by Rizzo to strike him out on three pitches and strand all three runners.

Video: CHC@CIN: Garrett K's Rizzo, strands the bases loaded

"I think that probably the best I have ever located my fastball is in that moment in time," Garrett said. "I love having the chance to come in back-to-back days. I think it fits my mentality."

HE SAID IT
"I said to myself, 'I am not going to let these runs score.' When they put me out there, I have a job to do. I wanted to strand those runners to keep the lead. I think it is the pressure of those situations. I thrive in those situations and want to be in them as much as I can." -- Garrett, on getting out of the seventh

Video: CHC@CIN: Peraza swipes second base on overturned call

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Peraza was initially called out on a steal attempt with two outs in the third, but a replay showed that he snuck his foot in just ahead of the tag by Cubs shortstop Russell. After a review of two minutes and 27 seconds, the call was overturned.

UP NEXT
Luis Castillo gets the nod for the Reds in game two of a four-game set with Chicago on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET. The right-hander surrendered three earned runs on six hits in five innings his last time out in a loss to the Pirates. Castillo will be looking to get on the right track after taking losses in each of his last four starts. He is 4-8 on the season with a 5.77 ERA. Left-hander Jose Quintana will be on the hill for the Cubs.

Brian Scott Rippee is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Reds, Amir Garrett, Matt Harvey, Jesse Winker