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Clutch Votto blasts Reds past Cubs in ninth

CHICAGO -- Joey Votto crushed a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth to power the Reds to a 7-4 victory over the Cubs on Wednesday at Wrigley Field. Chicago had tied the game in the bottom of the eighth on Kris Bryant's two-run home run, but Bryant's error helped keep Cincinnati's ninth alive.

Votto connected off Hector Rondon after Jason Bourgeois reached on an infield single and Jay Bruce was safe on a ball that went through Bryant's legs. With the win, the Reds won their first series since July 27-29 against the Cardinals.

"It was quality pitch that I could send the right direction, and we got three runs from it," Votto said of Rondon's 2-0 fastball.

The Cubs had intentionally walked Votto in the fifth inning Monday, but Cubs manager Joe Maddon liked the matchup against Rondon.

"Obviously, we probably should've zigged when we zagged," Maddon said. "The third fastball in a row got him. Votto is good. That's just execution. It was obviously a good pitch. [Rondon] didn't throw it where he wanted."

Reds rookie Raisel Iglesias was in line for the win after striking out 10 over seven innings and hitting an RBI triple. Iglesias reached double-digit strikeouts for the third straight game, a Cincinnati rookie record, and he has fanned 33 in his past three starts. Bourgeois got the Reds started with his first leadoff home run, hitting the second pitch from Jason Hammel into the left-field bleachers. More >

Video: [email protected]: Bourgeois opens scoring with leadoff homer

The Cubs totaled three hits off Iglesias, including solo homers by Tommy La Stella in the third and Anthony Rizzo in the fourth. Bryant then tied the game at 4 with a two-run blast with two outs in the eighth off J.J. Hoover, his 22nd home run of the season. Bryant now leads the team and all Major League rookies with 84 RBIs.

Video: [email protected]: Rizzo cranks a solo homer off Iglesias

"Obviously, you're on cloud nine when you hit a game-tying homer and then you blow it the next inning [with the error]," Bryant said. "Sometimes baseball works that way. It's a crazy game. … There's nothing to hang my head about. I wished I'd blocked the ball or just tried to put a body part on it, but I wasn't able to do that." More >

Votto comes up clutch: Votto's home run was his 27th of the season, and his sixth-inning single extended his streak of reaching safely to 22 games while batting .403 (27-of-67) in that stretch. The Reds' first baseman leads the Majors in batting, on-base percentage and slugging since the All-Star break. It was also the second time on the road trip that a Votto ninth-inning homer netted a win. He provided the winning homer in Saturday's 12-9 victory at Milwaukee, too.

"He certainly knows how to hit in the ninth inning when we need a homer," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "[Rondon] gets to Joey, 2-0, and he takes advantage of it. He doesn't try to do too much in those situations. He smoked that ball. It was great."

Start me up: The Cubs haven't gotten much depth from their starters recently, and Wednesday was another example. Hammel, who was celebrating his 33rd birthday, was pulled after giving up four runs over five-plus innings. Jake Arrieta's no-hitter on Sunday is the only quality start for the Cubs over the past eight games. Hammel now has a 5.63 ERA in his past eight starts, and he has not gone at least six innings in nine of his past 10 outings.

"The real thing I want to get out of is the first inning," Hammel said. "I have to set a better tone to the game. Obviously, [Bourgeois' homer] was a Wrigley home run there. It was a pitch up in the zone and he handled it and it was a run -- it doesn't matter how it's put up."

First Ribbie: It was a 2-2 game in the fifth when Eugenio Suarez led off with a double against Hammel. Two batters later, Iglesias lined a ball to the wall in right-center field well over Austin Jackson and Dexter Fowler. Iglesias not only legged out the first triple of his career, but also notched his first big league RBI for the go-ahead run.

Video: [email protected]: Iglesias fans 10, hits RBI triple vs. Cubs

"Bryan told me if the batter in front of me got on, I was going to bunt," Iglesias said via translator Tomas Vera. "He didn't. [Hammel] threw a good pitch. When I hit it, I felt really happy."

Match game: With the additions of La Stella and Javier Baez, manager Joe Maddon said he'll go on the best matchup as far as who starts at second base. Against lefties, it could be Starlin Castro. La Stella made the most of his start and hit his first home run and second of his career in the third after Iglesias had retired eight in a row. La Stella's only other big league homer came on Aug. 8, 2014, with the Braves.

Video: [email protected]: La Stella hits his first homer of the season

"It was a fair statement by him. His job is to comment on baseball. It doesn't bother me what you guys write or say. It's my responsibility to play, and then you guys comment on it. It doesn't matter what he said. I was an All-Star. The elite players go to the All-Star Game. I wasn't playing up to what I viewed as my level of play. He just made a comment on it. Big deal." -- Votto, when asked about when broadcaster Marty Brennaman said before the All-Star break that he was no longer an elite player

"I was thinking about that driving in today. Everything smelled, felt, tasted exactly the same. It's about baseball being played at this time of the year. When you get this many folks at a ballpark on a nightly basis, you feel the vibe. It's there on a nightly basis at Wrigley Field. That's really cool. … You win a no-hitter in Dodger Stadium, come back, get to bed at 6 o'clock, don't play that well, and then come back and win a really tight game last night. It's playoff stuff. I know I feel it, and I think a lot of the guys are starting to feel it too." -- Maddon, when asked to compare being in the postseason race in Tampa Bay compared to Chicago

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Iglesias is the first Major League rookie pitcher to record double-digit strikeouts in three consecutive games since 1995. That season, Hideo Nomo of the Dodgers had four straight games of 10 strikeouts or more.

Cubs rookie Kyle Schwarber, who hit his 13th homer of the season on Tuesday night, was scratched from the lineup because of soreness in his right side, which he felt in the batting cage prior to Wednesday's game. He was taken for a precautionary MRI. The Cubs did not expect test results until Friday. More >

Reds: Following a day off on Thursday, the Reds will begin a homestand Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET with a three-game series opener vs. the Brewers. Keyvius Sampson has been hit hard in his last four starts while posting a 9.00 ERA -- including six runs and seven hits over 3 2/3 innings vs. Milwaukee on Saturday -- and he will pitch again for Cincinnati.

Cubs: After an off-day Thursday, the Cubs will play host to the D-backs at Wrigley Field. Jon Lester gets the start in the series opener on Friday. In his last outing against the Dodgers, he gave up five runs over six-plus innings. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT.

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Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Jason Bourgeois, Jason Hammel, Raisel Iglesias, Tommy La Stella, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Eugenio Suarez