The Chicago Cubs (38-20) entered play on Friday a half-game behind the Cincinnati Reds (37-20) in the NL Central. Thanks to some 9th-inning heroics by Willson Contreras and Steven Souza Jr., they’re now in first place all by themselves. The Cubs rallied against Reds closer Raisel Iglesias to steal a 9-8 victory at Wrigley Field, via MLB The Show 20.
This was a wild game that featured six home runs, but no runs scored in the first four innings. The Reds opened the floodgates in the 5th when Travis Jankowski hit a one-out single, moved to second on a two-out hit by Joey Votto, and scored on Eugenio Suárez’s three-run homer. Former Cub Nicholas Castellanos followed with a solo shot, making the score 4-0 in a blink.
That would end Tyler Chatwood’s day on the mound after 4 2/3 innings with four earned runs on five hits and five walks while striking out four batters. Through the first four innings, it should be noted, Chatwood had surrendered just one hit but had built up his pitch count with the five walks.
Of course, the Cubs would bounce back immediately against Cincinnati starter Luis Castillo. After stymieing the Chicago offense through four innings, the Cubs broke out against Castillo with a three-homer inning. First came a two-run shot by Kris Bryant, then a solo homer by Javier Báez to center field, and finally a home run by Kyle Schwarber to tie the score at 4-4.
The Reds bounced back in the 7th against the often-shaky Cubs bullpen. Facing the combination of Danny Hultzen and Jeremy Jeffress, the Reds would score four runs on five hits, a walk, and a stolen base. Suddenly, Cincinnati was ahead 8-4 going to the bottom of the 7th.
Jason Heyward inched the Cubs closer with a home run leading off the frame, but 8-5 was as close as they’d get until the 9th. The Reds went to Iglesias with a three-run lead and he was able to get Nico Hoerner to line out to the second baseman for the first out. Bryant then started the rally with a double into the gap in right-center, but Rizzo failed to advance him on a weak flyout to right field.
With two outs, Báez hit an infield single that was the cause of some contention. He was initially called out, ending the game, but the play was challenged by David Ross. Báez clearly beat the play and the call was overturned, putting runners at first and third for Schwarber.
The Cubs left fielder kept the line moving with a hit to center field, scoring Bryant. That would be all for Iglesias, who was replaced on the mound by right-hander Matt Bowman. Contreras greeted him with a double up against the wall in right-center, scoring both runners and tying the game.
After Ian Happ was intentionally walked, Souza swung at the first pitch he saw and drove the ball into center field, bringing Contreras around from second for a wild walk-off win.
Notes: Báez came off the injured list before the game and collected two hits in his return. Ross joked after the game that he wasn’t certain Báez was fully healthy until he beat out the infield single. Despite Robel García’s big hit against the Marlins on Thursday, he was sent back down to Triple-A … Ross mentioned that his concern with Chatwood’s short starts has grown now that Alec Mills is in the rotation, so that’s something to keep an eye on.
Happ – 3-for-4, BB
Souza – 3-for-5, RBI
Bryant – 2-for-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI
Báez – 2-for-5, HR, RBI
Contreras – 1-for-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI
Jankowski – 2-for-3, BB, 2 R, 2 SB
Suárez – 1-for-2, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB
Castellanos – 1-for-5, HR, RBI
Winning Pitcher – Kimbrel (2-1)
Losing Pitcher – Bowman (1-2)
Save – None
Home Runs – Bryant (19), Baez (14), Heyward (11), Schwarber (8), Suárez (17), Castellanos (13)