CINCINNATI -- The Reds were able to contain the Cubs' bats for much of Thursday night, just long enough to get a big hit when they needed it most. Pinch-hitting in the bottom of the eighth, Jose Peraza (aka "Miguel Angel" on his Players Weekend jersey) drove a two-out, two-run
CINCINNATI -- The Reds were able to contain the Cubs' bats for much of Thursday night, just long enough to get a big hit when they needed it most. Pinch-hitting in the bottom of the eighth, Jose Peraza (aka "Miguel Angel" on his Players Weekend jersey) drove a two-out, two-run double that lifted Cincinnati to a 4-2 victory over Chicago at Great American Ball Park.
Pedro Strop worked the eighth inning for the Cubs and got two quick outs, including a nice diving catch from right fielder Jason Heyward that robbed Joey Votto of a hit. But Adam Duvall followed with a single and Scooter Gennett added a double. Eugenio Suarez ran a 3-0 count before given the intentional walk to load the bases.
Peraza hit a first-pitch drive to center field that bounced on the warning track just out of reach for Ian Happ before skipping over the wall for a ground-rule double.
"He's a really good pitcher. He's got a good fastball. I was ready for that," Peraza said. "I was just working in the cage to be ready for this at-bat."
"I ran a pretty long way for it," Happ said. "I had an opportunity; I just couldn't haul it in."
When asked how close he came to the ball, Happ replied, "centimeters."
"That was the last thing we saw coming," Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. "Give [Peraza] credit."
A wild pitch to Tucker Barnhart scored Suarez for an insurance run. The Cubs' five-game winning streak was snapped and they saw their National League Central lead shaved to three games over the idle Brewers.
Happ hit a solo home run in the second inning for the game's first run but it was Javier Baez's RBI single off Sal Romano in the sixth that snapped a 1-1 tie for the Cubs' go-ahead run.
In a no-decision, Romano allowed two earned runs over seven innings with six hits, three walks and seven strikeouts. Jacob Arrieta pitched 5 2/3 innings with one unearned run, four hits, three walks and eight strikeouts. Michael Lorenzen earned the win in the top of the eighth by striking out the side with one walk. Raisel Iglesias handled the top of the ninth for his 24th save in 25 tries.
"They have a great lineup," Arrieta said of the Reds. "When Sal goes out and pitches the way he does, it makes them that much tougher. If he pitches like tonight, they're a really good team."
Arrieta ("Snake") retired the first 10 batters he faced before Zack Cozart ("Coach") reached second base on an error by third baseman Kristopher Bryant on a ball down the line. Votto ("Tokki 2") followed with an RBI single to reach safely in his 28th consecutive game.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Nice relay to the plate: Cozart hit a leadoff single in the Reds' sixth inning before Votto drove a double to the left-field wall that Kyle Schwarber struggled to corral. Despite being under orders to not run at full speed on a sore right quadriceps, Cozart was waved around to the plate by third-base coach Billy Hatcher. Schwarber threw to Baez, who made a perfect relay throw to catcher Rene Rivera that nailed Cozart for the first out. Cincinnati would go on to load the bases but come up empty.
Been caught stealing: With one out in the ninth, Iglesias walked pinch-hitter Jonathan Jay and brought the tying run to the plate in pinch-hitter Alex Avila. On an 0-1 pitch, Jay attempted to steal second base but Barnhart reacted quickly and fired a perfect throw to second base that easily caught Jay for the second out. Avila was called out on strikes two pitches later from Iglesias to end the game. According to Statcast™, Barnhart's pop time was 1.94 seconds and his arm strength was 81.0 mph. The MLB-average pop time is 2.02 seconds. Barnhart's throw was the fifth-fastest tracked from him this season. His high is 83.5 mph.
• Romano out to prove he belongs in Reds' rotation
"I think anyone that has listened to me talk looks at the Reds 20 games under .500 and is going to say, 'This guy is a nut case if he's going to talk about how great the team is.' But, what we do do is show up every day and play hard. Today we got a really nice start, really good bullpen work and some really phenomenal late-game heroics. … I think that's what the fans should expect and as we continue to tighten things up and get stronger and get healthier with our pitching. I think this is something that could happen rather quickly, where we start to become a team that isn't just talking about playing hard but talking about winning streaks and better positioning in the standings." -- Reds manager Bryan Price.
In the seventh inning with Rivera on first base, pinch-hitter Thomas La Stella grounded to Votto, who fielded the ball and touched first base. Votto fired a throw to Cozart covering second base, who had to tag Rivera as he slid. Umpire Bill Miller made a safe call but the Reds challenged it and upon review, the replay official overturned it and Rivera was out in a double play.
Video: CHC@CIN: Reds turn two after call overturned
Cubs: The Cubs open a three-game Players Weekend series at Philadelphia at 6:05 p.m. CT Friday. Jose Quintana ("Q") (4-2, 3.73) will start for Chicago against Jerad Eickhoff ("Eick") (3-7, 4.66). Quintana will be making his eighth start for the Cubs. He has a combined 8-10 record and 4.27 ERA with the White Sox and Cubs.
Reds: The homestand shifts to three games vs. the Pirates, with Friday's series opener set for 7:10 p.m. ET. While it will be Players Weekend and the Pirates will wear their special uniforms, the Reds are observing a military appreciation night and will don camouflage jerseys instead. Robert Stephenson will get the start for Cincinnati.
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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 based in Cincinnati who covered the Cubs on Thursday.