CHICAGO -- The Reds escaped a bases loaded, one-out jam against the Cubs during a thrilling bottom of the ninth inning on Sunday. If they know one thing from being the Major League leaders in at-bats with the bases loaded, runs will eventually score if you tempt that fate too
CHICAGO -- The Reds escaped a bases loaded, one-out jam against the Cubs during a thrilling bottom of the ninth inning on Sunday. If they know one thing from being the Major League leaders in at-bats with the bases loaded, runs will eventually score if you tempt that fate too often.
Sure enough, Cincinnati couldn't repeat the same good fortune when the bases were loaded again with one out in the bottom of the 10th. Reliever Jackson Stephens issued a walk to David Bote to force home the go-ahead run for a 6-5 walk-off loss in the rubber game at Wrigley Field.
"I just didn't execute pitches," Stephens said. "I just needed to throw strikes, make a pitch and try to get a grounder."
Down, 5-4, in the top of the ninth, Adam Duvall gave the Reds life with his tying homer to left field against closer Brandon Morrow. In the bottom of the ninth, reliever Jared Hughes worked into a bases loaded situation following two one-out singles and a fielder's choice play. But with a five-man infield, Hughes kept the Cubs from scoring with a ground ball for a force play at the plate and a flyout to center field.
Stephens began the 10th with a walk on five pitches to Willson Contreras, and after a wild pitch to Vic Caratini, he intentionally walked Ian Happ. Addison Russell followed with a soft grounder near the line to first base. With an eye on Contreras, Joey Votto bobbled the ball as he ran to the bag. Although Russell was initially called out, a crew-chief review overturned the call to load the bases with one out.
"They're so aggressive. I just didn't want him to bee-line it home," Votto said. "I don't care about that out. I've go to make that play potentially. It was just one of those occasions where I bobbled it. I don't know what else to say. It was just a physical mistake."
For the second straight inning, the Reds used five infielders to defend as Bote batted. But they didn't get a chance to make a play as Stephens went to a full count before his final pitch was high and inside for ball four.
The Reds dropped the last two games of the series with one-run losses after a one-run victory on Friday.
"We're beyond the point of moral victories. We feel like we had to win these ballgames," interim manager Jim Riggleman said.
Defensive mistakes also hurt the Reds earlier in the game.
Reliever Michael Lorenzen carried a 4-3 lead into the seventh inning, when Albert Almora Jr. hit a two-out single. Lefty reliever Kyle Crockett entered and gave up Jason Heyward's single. David Hernandez took over and surrendered a Javier Baez single up the middle that scored Almora. Billy Hamilton, who made a heads-up running play to score a run in the fifth, made a high soft throw to the infield that overshot Jose Peraza. As Scooter Gennett got the ball in the mix-up, Heyward took advantage and scored a second run. Gennett was charged with an error on his rushed throw that let Baez advance to third base.
"I put that all on myself," Hamilton said. "Heads-up baserunning by him. You have to give credit to him, especially in that situation with the game tied, you don't expect him to run like that. It's hard for Scooter to just get the ball and turn around because he's thinking the same thing, 'OK, this guy isn't going to run.' I'm thinking the same thing. Everyone is pretty much thinking the same thing. It's a tough play all around. Pretty much my fault."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
It was a 3-3 game in the fifth inning when Hamilton drew a two-out walk from Cubs ace Jonathan Lester. With Peraza batting, Hamilton stole second base and Contreras' throw one-hopped past second base and into the outfield. Center fielder Almora booted the ball as it came his way and then nonchalantly retrieved the ball as Hamilton sprinted for third base. That enabled him to score ahead of Almora's rushed throw to the plate. Two errors were charged on the play -- to Contreras and Almora.
"In my head, I was just thinking second base," said Hamilton, who was 7-for-10 in the series. "The ball ended up going into center field. It's just something that I love being aggressive. Got to third. I just saw the ball laying on the ground so I was just thinking, 'If he has to bend down, pick the ball up and then make a perfect throw, I'm going to take that chance.'"
HE SAID IT
"Billy did some unbelievable stuff to create havoc out there and scored a run, and then Heyward did the same thing later. That game had a little bit of everything, it had big hitting, it had good defense. It had unearned runs. It just came down to they got the last at-bat, and walks played a big part of the game, actually. There was a number walks, a lot of deep three-ball counts, a lot of pitches thrown. Defense sometimes is going to suffer when you're going into deep counts and walking people and so forth. Who knows, maybe that had something to do with it." -- Riggleman
Reds right-hander Anthony DeSclafani will square off against Indians righty Mike Clevinger in the opener of a three-game series at 7:10 p.m. ET on Monday at Progressive Field. DeSclafani endured the roughest start during his abbreviated season when he allowed five earned runs and six hits -- with three home runs -- for a no-decision during the club's 12-8 loss to the White Sox in 12 innings on Tuesday. Blown saves cost DeSclafani wins in his past two starts and he hasn't taken a loss since his season debut on June 5.
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.